Uncovering the Enigmatic Mr. T: Surprising Facts You Need to Know

Uncovering the Enigmatic Mr. T: Surprising Facts You Need to Know

Kim -

With his signature mohawk and countless gold chains, Mr. T has been a cultural icon for over four decades. But beyond his tough-guy persona and catchphrases, there are still many things that people don't know about Lawrence Tureaud - the man behind Mr. T. From his rebellious name change to his humble beginnings in public housing, here are seven surprising things you need to know about the enigmatic Mr. T.

1. The Rebel Name Change

Lawrence Tureaud changed his name to Lawrence Tero after his father irresponsibly abandoned him and his 11 siblings.

And he later shortened it to "T" and added the honorific "Mr." for added respect. This name change allowed him to assert his individuality and reclaim his sense of self-worth.

2. Humble Beginnings in Chicago

Before becoming a cultural icon, Mr. T faced numerous obstacles. In his adolescence, Mr. T and his 11 family members had to share a small three-bedroom apartment in Chicago. And he faced poverty, bullying, and racial discrimination.

Despite his cramped living conditions, Mr. T found his passion for football, wrestling, and martial arts while attending Dunbar Vocational High School. He even became a two-time citywide wrestling champion.

3. The Origin of Mr. T's Iconic Jewelry

Since he could not join Wisconsin's NFL team due to his knee injury, Mr. T found a job as a bouncer at Dingbats club in Chicago.

Then he started collecting the gold chains and jewelry that club-goers left behind. To make sure the owners could easily notice them, he started wearing them around his neck.

4. The Mandinka Warrior Hairstyle

Inspired by the hairstyles of West Africa's Mandinka warriors on National Geographic, Mr. T decided to adopt a similar style as a way to honor his African heritage.

He also continued to wear his gold chains as a tribute to his enslaved ancestors. Today, the hairstyle is synonymous with Mr. T and his tough-guy persona.

5. Mr. T's Celebrity Status

Mr. T had been a trusted protector for celebrities in his 10-year body-guarding career, and he earned thousands of dollars a day for his reassuring services.

He even had opportunities to become an undercover hired hitman. However, he ultimately chose to pursue acting and became a beloved cultural icon in the process.

6. America's Toughest Bouncer

Mr. T's appearance on the NBC competition, America's Toughest Bouncer, proved to be the catalyst for his acting career.

He won the competition twice, impressing Sylvester Stallone, who was watching at home. Stallone was so taken with Mr. T's talent that he offered him the role of Clubber Lang in Rocky III.

7. The Birth of An Iconic Line

Sylvester Stallone originally intended for Mr. T to have a small role in Rocky III, but after getting to know him, Stallone realized he belonged in a more prominent role.

Stallone took some of Mr. T's quotes from America's Toughest Bouncer and incorporated them into the film, including Mr. T's most famous line, "I pity the fool."

8. Mr. T's Leading Role on The A-Team

Following his success in Rocky III, Mr. T was offered another leading role on NBC's The A-Team.

He played the character of Sergeant Bosco Albert "B.A." Baracus, the group's tough guy with expert mechanical skills. The show was a huge success and helped cement Mr. T's status as a cultural icon.

9. Animation About Mr. T

In addition to his live-action roles, Mr. T also starred in an animated series produced by Ruby-Spears.

Mr. T followed a stylized version of the actor as he trained gymnasts to fight crimes and solve mysteries. The show was a success and ran for three consecutive seasons.

10. Mr. T Cereal

In the 1980s, Quaker Oats Company produced a breakfast cereal named after Mr. T. The cereal was marketed as a nutritious breakfast option for children.

It consisted of sweetened corn and oats, which were shaped like the letter T. Although Mr. T Cereal was only available for a few years, the cereal remains a nostalgic favorite for many who grew up in the 80s.

11. Mr. T's Battle with Cancer

During the 1990s, Mr. T's public presence had to take a backseat due to his declining health. Although he continued to appear in occasional television commercials, the actor dedicated most of his time to recuperation.

Despite his rugged exterior, Mr. T's humorous personality shone through as he often made light of his diagnosis. It's ironic that his cancer was called T-cell, considering his iconic moniker.

12. The Infamous Lake Forest Chainsaw Massacre

In 1987, Mr. T made headlines after taking down over a hundred oak trees in the vicinity of his estate in Lake Forest, Illinois, causing outrage among residents and gaining nationwide attention.

While the celebrity owned the land, his blatant disregard for the environment did not sit well with the locals.