I pity the fool who doesn't sing Happy Birthday
The ultimate 80s icon -- Mr. T -- is 54 years old today. To me, he'll always be Clubber Lang in Rocky III. ("My prediction? Pain.") Others prefer him as B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracus in The A-Team. And as soon as I finish this blog item, I'm refilling my glass and queuing up his performance as the wisely janitor in "Not Another Teen Movie." (A little Sunday ritual of mine.)
His real name is Lawrence Tureaud and he was the youngest of 12 children in a family that grew up in the housing projects of Chicago. He played football for Prairie View A&M University and tried out for the Green Bay Packers before a knee injury ended his career. He found he could make a good living as a bodyguard to the stars and changed his name to Mr. T in 1980. (So that people would have to call him "Mister....")
Mr. T's acting career began in 1982 when he was discovered by Sylvester Stallone during a "World's Toughest Bouncer" contest. Stallone cast him in Rocky III, where his trademark line was born: "I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool." (To this day, sadly, this is my favorite of the Rocky movies. Mainly because of "Eye of the Tiger" and the way it ends with Rocky and Apollo about to land punches.)
His remains one of the foremost acting cheeseheads of the 80s, along with Gary Coleman, Ricky Schroeder and Patrick Swazye.
Favorite quotes attributed to Mr. T:
-- "I pity the fool."
-- "As a kid, I got three meals a day. Oatmeal, miss-a-meal and no meal."
-- "I believe in the Golden Rule: The Man with the Gold . . . Rules."
-- "When I was growing up, my family was so poor we couldn't afford to pay attention."
-- "It takes a smart guy to play dumb."