Back in the 1970s, the man we would come to know as Mr. T (né Laurence Tureaud) was a bouncer in his hometown of Chicago. If a bar patron lost a piece of jewelry due to carelessness or as the result of a fight, he would simply wear the chain around his neck until the owner came back to reclaim it. Usually, the customers failed to return; thus creating the world renowned gold chain heap we know today.
One day, while reading an issue of National Geographic, Mr. T stumbled across an image of Mandinka warriors. He was taken by their hairstyle and appropriated the look for himself. As his jewelry collection soared to a value of $300,000, this was a safer, less labor-intensive alternative—Mr. T had spent hours were spent placing the chains around his neck. He would also sleep in the bulky chains to get a sense of what it must have been like for ancestors who were slaves. However, after seeing the devestating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he decided to forego his trademark jewelry.
Mr. T remains an indelible icon of the 80s. With his uniform of fatigued pants and denim jackets with sawed off sleeves, he was aware of his image and took a proactive role in creating it. Dirk Benedict, as Face, may have been the hotty of the show, it was Mr. T who left the biggest mark.