‘The A-Team’: How the Classic Series Made Mr. T a Household Name

by Taylor Cunningham

If you’re a child of the 80s or 90s, there’s no doubt that you remember Mr. T. The lead star of The A-Team was a celebrity that rose to ranks that we haven’t seen since, which may lead you to wonder how the series managed to make him so famous.

However, the series really didn’t play much of a hand in the actor’s popularity other than giving him a platform to shine. It was actually the other way around. Mr. T, also known as Laurence Tureaud, created himself. And it was easy for him to win the hearts of people across the world.

When the classic TV star joined the series as B.A., he was the show’s breakout star. His tough and protective demeanor made everyone “pity the fool” who ended up on his bad side. And people felt a little safer at night knowing that someone like him walked the earth.

“He’s the strong father image some kids have never known,” Bob from Ask Bob once explained. “He’s the guy you always prayed would happen along when some bully picked on you at the playground. And he’s the guy grownups secretly envy for his ability to deal decisively with confrontations most of us might run from.”

Directly following the A-Team premiere, his fame was so overwhelming that every major magazine plastered his face on their covers. And he was so in demand, that reporters had to wait in line for interviews—if they could even get them.

And Mr.T was well aware that he would become a pop culture phenom before the first episode aired. He was a confident man who had made a living off of being a bodyguard for the likes of Michael Jackson, Steve McQueen, Mick Jagger, and Muhammad Ali. And while charging $10,000 a day for his services, he noticed that everyone who met him fell in love.

Mr. T Told ‘The A-Team’ Creator to Step Back and Let Him Make Magic

“When Stephen Cannell called me about The A-Team, I said if you let me do my thing, can’t anybody do it any better,” he once explained. “Don’t restrict me or hold me back, it’ll flow.”

And while the words may sound self-obsessed, they’re not. Mr. T actually was and is a genuinely nice guy. He’s just confident enough to know that.

With his $80,000 a week earnings from A-Team, he built a lavish house for his mother, who he thanked for raising him and his 11 siblings on her own. And though he was invited to every celebrity event there was, he chose to dedicate all of his free time to worthy causes.

When Mr. T wasn’t filming or speaking to the press, he was working with his church or volunteering with kids growing up in poverty.

“There’s just a certain chemistry that I have that draws people to me,” Mr. T shared. “Maybe they’re awed in my presence, or maybe they like me… Like I said, not being cocky or conceited, everything I touch turns to gold. I know if I do my best, God’ll do the rest.”