Mr. T is one of those names that it’s just impossible to forget partly because it’s only 3 letters and syllables long but mostly because it’s owned by a man who for a brief period in the 80’s, communicated solely through smack talk and haymakers. Which he’d happily use if you didn’t refer to him as Mr. T.
As you may, or may not know, prior to boiling his name down to three of the most iconic letters in pop culture history, Mr. T was known to the world as Laurence Tureaud which is still pretty cool fucking name but nowhere near as testical shatteringly badass as Mr. Fucking T. However, as cool as it this name was, Mr. T became increasingly frustrated with white racist assholes referring to him a dismissive or disrespectful manner. Which is kind of hilarious when you realise that Mr. T worked as a bouncer in the early 80’s which involved him doing things like this …
On a daily basis and people still decided to try and give him shit for being black by refusing to call him by his first name.
That picture by the way is a still from a short-lived TV show called, America’s Toughest Bouncer, which Mr. T won after hurling a man through a solid wooden door while wearing a pristine white suit and knocking out a 300 pound man in a boxing match in under a minute. A feat which eventually led to him being cast as Clubber Lang in the Rocky movies.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, when he first started out as a bouncer after leaving the military in the 70’s, Mr. T (who was still going by his original name at this point) didn’t like how customers weren’t giving him the amount of respect he felt he deserved for a man with arms as large as his. So, he decided to legally change his name to “Mr. T” purely so that clients, customers and everyone else he encountered would have to refer to him as “Mister” whether they liked it or not.
In 1984 interview with Jet magazine, Mr. T expanded on this reasoning, explaining that he’d grown up seeing people refer to his father as “boy” purely because of his race and that he disliked how as a black man, he had to to fight, sometimes literally for his right to be referred to in a way he didn’t find patronising. So, he changed his name as soon as he was able so that everyone, regardless of who they were, would have to call him him Mister, saying that if he was old enough to fight and die for his country, he was old enough to not be treated like shit by everyone he met.
Hilariously, in the same interview Mr. T also revealed that he was so stone dead serious about people referring to him as “Mister” first and foremost that his own mother had taken to calling him “Mr. T” around the house. While you think about how awesome that is, please enjoy this picture of Mr. T carefully brushing his iconic Mohawk.