Saturday, November 8, 2008

You Learn Something New Everyday

I always assumed Mr. T was born with those gold chains attached to his neck. But with a bit of research (read: a quick stop by Wikipedia), I came out with a new found respect for the man who brilliantly portrayed Rocky III nemesis, Clubber Lang and tough guy B.A. Baracus on The A Team.

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.

1 comment:

  1. I have a spot for Mr. T in my golden locket.... What an informative article. Before I came upon I had no idae that I even wanted to know why MR. T wore all those chains. I just thought it was as natural as th sun rising every morning. Just another fact of life. Mr. T wore chains and yes tap water just flows out of my sink when ever I open the faucet.

    I did hear somewhere that it was his statement on the slavery but I never heard the story of how it originated. Fascinating. I love the Snickers commercial he did a while back... although it got banned for being offensive or some junk or another. I thought MR. T riding around in a tank shooting Snickers at things he hated was brilliant. The critics are always wrong. Long live Mr. B.A. Baracus!