Photo credits: The Everett Collection
Laurence “Mr. T” Tureaud was born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 21, 1952. He is most recognized for his performances in classic films and for his memorable stint as a professional wrestler.
Mr. T’s signature hairdo, inspired by Mandinka warriors in West Africa, his opulent gold jewelry, his serious demeanor, and his tagline “I pity the idiot!” are all part of his trademark style. When Mr. T portrayed Clubber Lang in Rocky III, he first spoke this catchphrase. He then utilized it as a trademark in slogans and titles, such as the 2006 reality program I Pity the Fool.
Mr. T was the youngest of 21 children in a huge family with four sisters and seven brothers. They grew up at the Robert Taylor Homes in a three-bedroom apartment. Nathaniel Tureaud, his father, was a church pastor.
He changed his name to Lawrence Tero when his father departed when he was five years old. He formally changed his last name to T in 1970. His new moniker, Mr. T., was inspired by his early experiences with white people’s lack of respect for his family.
According to FestivalReviews.org, he expressed the following about his experience:
I remember my father being called ‘boy,’ my uncle being called ‘boy,’ and my brother being called ‘boy’ after returning from Vietnam. So I asked myself, “What does a black guy have to accomplish before he is treated like a man?” So when I was 18, when I was old enough to fight and die for my country, when I was old enough to drink and vote, I declared that I was old enough to be considered a man. Mr. T, I self-ordained myself, so “Mr.” is the first thing out of everyone’s mouths.