You Say It's Your Birthday: Mr. T

It's also the birthday of ex-Jawbreaker singer Blake Swerzenbach.

Today is the birthday of '80s TV icon Mr. T (given name:

Laurence Tureaud), who was born in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. T's

appearance on the well-loved 1980s crime series The A-Team inspired a

generation of schoolkids to mouth off cries of "I pity da foo'!" at one

another, and also lent his name to the San Francisco-area punk band Mr. T

Experience. Turreaud grew up in the housing projects in the ghettoized South

Chicago region; his father left when Turreaud was five, abandoning 12 children

and their religious mom. Turreaud's brothers encouraged him to take up

bodybuilding in order to defend himself, and he was a well-behaved school

student, earning average grades and becoming a football star in college.

After a rocky college period, Turreaud joined the Army for a while before

the Green Bay Packers asked him to join their team. A knee injury ended his

stint in pro football, so he started working as a bodyguard for folks like

Muhammed Ali, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and LeVar Burton. His business cards

claimed, "Next to God, there is no better protector than I." In 1970 he changed

his name to Laurence Tero, and later to Mr. T so that people would be forced to

call him "Mister."

Mr. T adopted his oddly shaped mohawk from the head of

a Mandinka warrior in National Geographic, and was later spotted by

Sylvester Stallone for inclusion in Rocky III. He appeared briefly in a

couple of movies, then was cast as the bludgeoning BA Baracus in The

A-Team. In the mid-1980s Mr. T admitted an aspiration to become a preacher

by the turn of the decade. That dream never materialized, and Mr. T has been

laying low for quite a while.

Other birthdays: Blake Swerzenbach (ex-

Jawbreaker singer), Matt Walker (Filter), Hilton Valentine (Animals), Tony

Sheridan, Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers), Leo Sayer, Tim Lever (Dead Or Alive

keyboardist), LaTanyia Baldwin (For Real) and actors Raymond Burr and Judge

Reinhold. -- Beth Winegarner