One of our favorite pop culture icons of the ’80s is Mr. T. The man has done a lot in his life, and we celebrate that by bringing you 12 things you may not know about him. When you’re done checking these out, leave your favorite Mr. T memories in the comments.
Mr. T was an amateur wrestling champion in his youth.
During his high school days in Chicago, Mr. T was city-wide champion two years in a row.
Mr. T served in the United States Army.
Mr. T enlisted in the U.S. Army in the mid-70’s where he served in the Military Police Corps. In November of 1975, he was awarded a letter of recommendation by his drill sergeant, and out of a cycle of 6000 troops, he was elected “Top Trainee of the Cycle”!
Mr. T Was a bodyguard for Hollywood stars and millionaires.
After leaving the Army, Mr. T worked as a bouncer at bars, and took jobs as a bodyguard for many famous people including Leon Spinks, Steve McQueen, Diana Ross, and Muhammad Ali. He was so effective in his role, he was able to charge $3000 – $10,000 per night!
Mr. T’s iconic catchphrase came from a movie.
In 1983, Mr. T starred in Rocky 3 as the walking disaster known as Clubber Lang. During the movie, before he fights Rocky, he is interviewed. In the interview, Clubber is asked if he hates Rocky Balboa, and Clubber responded, “I don’t hate Balboa, I pity the fool.” It didn’t take very long for Mr. T to make that line famous and turn it into one of the most quoted catch phrases of all time.
Mr. T starred in his own cartoon.
Mister T debuted in 1983 on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup, and featured Mr. T as a gymnastics coach where he and his students would solve mysteries around the world!
Mr. T had his own cereal.
Mr. T cereal debuted in 1994 and featured crispy sweet corn and oat cereal bits that were shaped like the letter “T”. Forget appearing on the Wheaties box, Mr. T appeared on the box of his OWN cereal!
Mr. T was once played Santa Claus for the White House.
In 1983, Nancy Reagan was campaigning to get kids to say no to drugs. Mr. T was going around to schools talking to kids on his own crusade to discourage them from using drugs as well. The first lady invited Mr. T to be the White House Santa that year. He dressed up, gave out presents, had Nancy Reagan sit on his lap, and she even gave him a kiss!
Mr. T hosted Saturday Night Live.
On Saturday night March 30, 1985, Mr. T and Hulk Hogan teamed up to host Saturday Night Live as promotion for the first Wrestlemania taking place the next day in New York City. The show also featured Billy Crystal, as well as musical guests, The Commodores!
Mr. T was a professional wrestler.
At the first Wrestlemania, he teamed with Hulk Hogan to battle “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” in the main event. He returned the following year at Wrestlemania 2 and defeated Roddy Piper in a boxing match.
Mr. T starred in his own comic book.
In 1993, Now Comics released a series starring Mr. T. The comic book series ran for 14 issues into 1994
Mr. T scored a hockey goal from mid-ice.
In 2013, Mr. T showed up at a Chicago Blackhawks game and replaced the regular fan in the mid-period tradition of taking a few shots from center ice. Once again showing how awesome he is, of course, Mr. T made the shot! Watch the video here.
Mr. T beat cancer.
The man BEAT cancer. Mr. T beat freaking cancer! He beat a cancer so tough, it had his name! In 1995, Mr. T was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma. After five treatments of radiation, the cancer dissolved. It returned 11 months later, but Mr. T never gave up the fight and is now cancer-free.