Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud) was one of the instantly recognizable characters on TV and in film that viewers loved to love. Whether you first saw him on the TV series The A-Team (1983-87) as B.A. Baracus or as Clubber Lang in Rocky III (1982), he was unforgettable.
With his profusion of gold neck chains, sparkly rings adorning each finger, swaggering persona, eye-catching hair style modeled after those of West African Mandinka warriors, and signature motto of “I pity the fool,” Mr. T. definitely impressed audiences.
There’s probably plenty about him that you probably aren’t aware of. He served in the US Army. He was such a success in basic training that he emerged as the number one trainee among 6,000 recruits.
He also had many jobs before he became famous: bouncer, gym teacher, military policeman, and bodyguard for celebrities like Diana Ross, Steve McQueen, and Muhammad Ali.
Mr. T seems to have become less visible lately. People wonder if he is still active in the entertainment industry and if so, what is he working on. Here’s what we found out about this brawny hero with a heart that is every bit as golden as his baubles.
Mr. T. Continued Acting Into The 2010s
Mr. T was in films such as Freaked (1993), in which he played the Bearded Lady at a “freak farm” alongside Brooke Shields, Randy Quaid, and Morgan Fairchild; Inspector Gadget (1999), which was derived from the cartoon character; and Not Another Teen Movie (2001), a humorous takeoff on films targeted to youthful audiences in which he played the Wise Janitor.
He also voiced the character of Earl Devereaux in the animated comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).
Mr. T appeared in numerous television shows as well. He played himself in Blossom (1994), Suddenly Susan (1996-97), The Simpsons (2004), and Johnny Bravo (2004).
He lent his voice to Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999) and portrayed a gambler in Finders Keepers (2010).
His most recent appearances were in 2014 in WrestleMania XXX and The Comeback Kids.
He’s A Cancer Survivor
Mr. T had a fight of his own to face several years ago, but his nemesis wasn’t a human villain—it was a cancer diagnosis.
In 1995, he learned that he had T-cell lymphoma. It was a tough challenge for him, as it would be for anyone. Mr. T marshalled his physical and emotional strength against it, along with his deep religious faith, which he said he has shared with other cancer patients to bolster their morale.
Mr. T’s philosophy is grounded in resilience and hope. He wants to impart it to people dealing with this disease so they can make it through just like he has.
“When they hear about me fighting cancer,” he explained, “hear about me not quitting, they can say, ‘Wow, I’m not going to quit.’”
When he talked about his ordeal, his voice was urgent and impassioned.
He went through a course of radiation therapy (five treatments weekly for a month), but his extremely rare cancer came back almost a year later.
This time, Mr. T had chemotherapy, which he said made him nauseated, sleepless, and dizzy. Still, he hung in there. “Life is an endurance test,” he said. “It’s not a 50-yard sprint or 100-yard dash. It’s a marathon. I’ve got to endure, endure the hardship.”
There was plenty of chemo, plus radiation, with interferon therapy thrown in. It was a grueling regimen. Mr. T and his doctors pulled out all the stops—but nothing slowed him down, not even cancer.
Mr. T continued the story of his cancer journey in a pensive vein that is grounded in his closely-held religious beliefs: “We’re going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but the key is we’re going through there. Through is the key word…. Though means there’s an exit on the other side. So we’re not going to stay there.”
Although Mr. T’s cancer returned, he had been cancer-free for 12 years at the time of a 2013 interview.
He Hosted World’s Craziest Fools on BBC Three
This amusing clip compilation show hosted by Mr. T aired in 2011 and 2013. Its title was derived from his favorite saying, “I pity the fool.” The videos, some from CCTV footage, showcased people looking silly. They were grouped into categories such as workmen fools, parking fools, drunken fools, and criminal fools.
He Was Inducted Into The WWE Hall Of Fame In 2014
Mr. T was inducted by Gene Okurland, but that was not the high point that observers remembered about T’s acceptance speech. He exceeded his time by so much that another wrestler named Kane had to break in to hurry him up. Mr. T also mentioned and praised his mother—along with mothers in general—73 times, by Metro’s count.
For example, Mr. T said, “I believe that mothers are one of God’s greatest creations. My mother, your mother, all mothers … thank God for mothers.”
“I believe the genius of God’s soul expresses his self through the body of a mother, like no other.”
He Competed On Season 24 Of Dancing With The Stars In 2017
Mr. T showed off his skills as a hoofer on Dancing With The Stars. Paired with dancer Kym Herjavec, he finished in 10th place and was third to be eliminated from the competition. He generously vowed to donate half of his winnings to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and the other half to the Shriners.
In 2017, Mr. T told Larry King on Larry King Now that what motivated him to go on the show was not just the glittering mirror ball trophy that goes to the top-ranked dancing couple. He was eager to use his stint on DWTS to help children dealing with serious health crises.
“My mother told me, ‘The blessed of us must try to save the lest [least] of us,’” he said. “This is my way of giving back to the children…They haven’t had time to be a kid [because of their medical situation] …”
He added that in his opinion, people sometimes put excessive emphasis on winning whatever kind of contest they compete in. “Because of the cause I represent,” he said, “I already won before I hit the dance floor…You only lose when you give up, you lose when you quit, you lose when you cheat.”
USA Today observed that Mr. T “drops from the A-Team to the B-Squad,” but to him, going by his remarks on finishing first versus doing good, there was something vastly more important at stake than merely amassing more points for excellence from the judges than any of the other contestants.
He was able to draw attention to what he called his “cause.” That indeed made him a winner.
He’s Active On Twitter
He likes to post about the Bible and sports. For example, one of Mr. T’s posts was “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places -Ephesians 6:12.”
Another tweet said, “Hey, All you Guys @USMNT, I’m still Proud of you! You Can’t Win Them All. You left it on The Field, “You Win with Modesty and Lose with Dignity!”
Mr. T has thoughtfully and generously used the platform he has as a well-known and liked personality to encourage people to overcome their illnesses and increase awareness of children who must deal with major medical issues.
He worked hard to get to the top and never forgot his roots, especially the life lessons he learned from his precious mother. Mr. T is one celebrity who clearly has his priorities straight.