Laurence Tureaud

a.k.a. Mr. T

Mister T!

"When I was growing up, my family was so poor we couldn't afford to pay attention."

Mr. T was born Laurence Tureaud in Chicago.  He was the second youngest child in a family of twelve children.  His father left when Laurence was 5, and his mother raised the family on a $87 a month budget via welfare in a three-room apartment.  Mr. T’s brothers encouraged him to build up his body in order to survive in the area.  He has commented, “If you think I’m big, you should see my brothers!”

Laurence attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, where he played football, wrestled, and studied martial arts.  He won a scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, but was thrown out after a year (probably for being too bad-ass).  He attended other small Chicago area colleges on athletic scholarships.  After leaving school, Laurence became a military policeman in the U.S. Army

A serious T

"As a kid, I got three meals a day. Oatmeal, miss-a-meal, and no meal."

He worked as a club bouncer after he returned from the army.  It was at this time that he created the “Mr. T” persona.  His wearing of gold chains and other jewelry was the often result of customers leaving them behind after a fight.  Mr. T wore their jewelry as he stood out front.  If a customer came back, their item(s) was readily visible and available with any further confrontations.  Often, these former customers — scared sh!tless — didn’t return.  Mr. T thus built up a large gold collection and earned a bad-ass reputation.

Mr. T managed eventually to parlay his job as a bouncer into a career as a bodyguard to the stars that lasted almost ten years.  He protected well-known personalities like Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross.  He also protected boxers like Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, and Joe Frazier. He charged approximately $3,000 per day.  His business card read, “Next to God, there is no greater protector than I.”  Mr. T claimed that he never lost a client, saying “I got hurt worse growing up in the ghetto than working as a bodyguard.”

While reading National Geographic, Mr. T first noticed the unusual hairstyle, for which he is now famous, on a Mandinka warrior. He decided that adoption of the style would be a powerful statement about his African origin.  It was a more permanent visual signature than his gold.  His ultra-sonic cleaned jewelry, at the time, was worth about $300,000 and took him about an hour to put on.  Occasionally, he would sleep with the heavy neck chains and bracelets on, “to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt.”

Rocky vs. Clubber

Try a breath mint, fool!

In 1980, Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while taking part in NBC show “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition (he won America’s Toughest Bouncer twice).  His role in Rocky III was originally intended as just a few lines …but that’s not how he rolls.  His catchphrase comes from the film, in which he played the boxer Clubber Lang. When asked if he hated Rocky, he replied “No. I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool.”


A Mister T cartoon premiered in 1983 on NBC.  It starred Mr. T as the owner of a gym where he helped kids train.  These kids would, in turn, “help” Mr. T solve mysteries and fight crime.  Thirty ass-kicking episodes were produced.  Mr. T also had cereal & a whole brunch of crap made in his image.  The whole world loved T.


"Cookies taste good stored in my head, fool!"

He made a motivational video called Be Somebody… or Be Somebody’s Fool! in 1984.  He gives helpful advice to children throughout the video.  He teaches them how to understand and appreciate their origins, how to control their anger, and how to deal with peer pressure.  He also teaches kids how to dress fashionably(?) without buying designer labels and how to make tripping up look like break-dancing.

Mr. T Breakin'

The video is roughly an hour long.  It contains 30 minutes of songs and raps by Mr. T, sometimes with children.  He sings “Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right).”  He also raps about growing up in the ghetto and praising God.  The raps in this video were written by Ice T.  Imagine the awesomeness of the meeting of the great T minds…

Album Cover

That same year he released Mr. T’s Commandments, a related rap album. Also in 1984, he starred in the film, The Toughest Man in the World. Bad-asses aren’t lazy.  Unlike a lot of celebrities, Mr. T was quite conscious of being a positive role model for the millions of children who admired him: he never drank, smoked, or took drugs of any kind. He turned down acting roles that cast him as the villain or as overtly sexy.

Mr. T entered the world of professional wrestling in 1985.  He was Hulk Hogan’s tag-team partner at the first WrestleMania.  Unfortunately, the main event was almost ruined because when he arrived, security would not let his entourage into the building.

In The A-Team, he played Sergeant Bosco “B.A.” Baracus (B.A. is an abbreviation of “Bad Attitude” as well as “Bosco Albert”).  When asked at a press conference whether he was as stupid as B.A. Baracus, he observed quietly, “It takes a smart guy to play dumb.”  Mr. T was once reported to be earning around $80,000 a week for his role in The A-Team and getting $15,000 for personal appearances.  However, by the end of the 1990s, he was appearing only in the occasional commercial, largely because of health problems (In 1995, he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma).  Don’t worry.  Mr. T beat cancer, like many other suckers who jibber-jabber, in 2001 at age 49.

T's got nuts!!He has appeared in commercials for MCI’s 1-800-COLLECT collect-call service and on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  He has also appeared in a slew more commercials, including the 2007 U.K. campaign advertising the chocolate bar, Snickers, with the slogan “Get Some Nuts!”

...I actually have one of these

I actually have one of these. Yep, I thought (and still do) that Mr. T is bad-ass.

Mr. T didn’t invest his money unwisely like other folks such as MC Hammer.  He splits his time between his suburban Chicago home and a 20-acre ranch in the foothills near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he spends most of his summers.  In 2005, Mr. T stated that he would never wear his chains (albeit in commercials) again.  He arrived at this decision after seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina.  He has donated a lot of money over his lifetime to charities and his family.

“I use my celebrity status to inspire someone, to give them hope.  I tell them where I grew up—on the South Side of Chicago.  I tell them how I was born and raised in the ghetto, but the ghetto wasn’t born and raised in me.  About how I loved and respected my mother, how my mother used to teach us to bless our food, and reminded us to be thankful for what we had.  She said if you can appreciate what little you have, God will give you more.  And that’s what I think happened when I look back on my life.”


How can you not love Mr. T?  Christ, he was voted by a BBC-run poll as the fourth most influential American in history, behind Homer Simpson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King!

Here are the source links: and here: and here: and vh1’s bio (they get squirrelly when it comes to linking).


2 Responses to “Laurence Tureaud”

  1. brethren Says:

    I think i saw Mr. T. enrolling at IADT-Tampa yesterday. his career must not be going so well these days.
    Just like a bad-ass, he is pursuing his dreams of becoming a web developer!

  2. I love this blog! ^_^ Very inspirational and so bad ass 😛 Also – it never struck me that Mr T in real life was actually such a nice guy O_o

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