Remember how much you loved it when a plan came together? So stop your jibber-jabber and relive those sweet moments with these little-known A-Team facts — just to pity the fool who doesn’t. One of the trademarks of B.A. Baracus, played by Mr. T, is the copious amounts of gold jewelry that he wears around his neck. This reportedly weighed anywhere between 35-40 pound and cost around $300,000. A 1983 fanzine said Mr. T wore it to bed “to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt.”
The Running Joke
Almost every episode has a car stunt in which the vehicle flies in the air before crash-landing. The driver and passengers would then emerge from the vehicle, unscathed. Apparently, this was a joke that was running for the entire production. The writers would stage these dramatic car chases to test the limits of realism. The effect was that some critics lambasted the show, comparing it to Tom and Jerry, while others loved the show for the same exact reason.
“It Was A Guy’s Show”
The A-Team is decidedly a “guy’s show,” as Dirk Benedict recalls, and female roles were written in less and less. Melinda Culea, for example, wanted a more central role for her character, Amy Amanda Allen, after featuring prominently in the pilot episode. She and George Peppard reportedly clashed from the start, as he didn’t think the show needed a strong female lead. After rubbing male cast members and producers the wrong way, she was fired halfway through the second season.
Keeping The PG Rating
For a show that had so much gunfire, explosions, and action in it, no one seemed to die. In addition to the lack of death, there was hardly ever any blood in The A-Team, which likely contributed to the TV program retaining its PG rating. There was one notable exception to the no-death rule: in the final episode of season four, called The Sound of Thunder, General Fulbright dies after he is shot in the back by a Vietnamese soldier.
Face’s Intro Is A Nod To Battlestar Galactica
In the opening credits of The A-Team, Dirk Benedict’s character, Faceman, can be seen reacting to a Cylon warrior walking in front of him on the Universal Studios lot. This is a reference to a 1978 TV series he starred in called Battlestar Galactica, which you may know from the critically acclaimed reboot launched in the mid-2000s. In the show, Benedict played Lieutenant Starbuck, humanity’s best fighter pilot against our species’ sworn enemy, the Cylons.
Mr. T. Was Almost Fired
During filming for the premiere of the fourth season, which took place on a cruise liner, Mr. T sadly suffered a family loss. To add insult to injury, his air conditioner was faulty. Even though B.A. fears flying, Mr. T evidently does not, as he promptly called for a helicopter to pick him up and bring him back to land. He then called a producer with a list of demands. The producer was said to be very close to firing him, but they worked things out and the show went on.
Tim Dunigan Was Too Tall & Young
You will notice that Face is played by Tim Dunigan in the pilot episode, but producers quickly replaced him with Dirk Benedict, the Faceman we all know and love. The reason why was that he looked too young to play a Vietnam War veteran. Producers looked for a replacement and found him in Dirk Benedict. In addition to his youthful looks, Dunigan is 6’5″, towering over the A-Team’s strongman, Mr. T, at 5’10”. This looked odd to them at the screening of the pilot.
The show gained such a following before it ended in 1987 that fans refused to let the adventures of the A-Team end after the finale. Numerous works have been made, some even departing from normative fan fiction and entering the realm of slash fiction. Books were even written, based on a few of the most popular episodes, including Operation Desert Sun: The Untold Story and Bikinis and Bells. Half of the books had U.K.-only releases.
“I Pity The Fool”
Many believe that B.A. is where Mr. T picked up the “I pity the fool” catchphrase, along with constantly calling people “suckers,” but they are mistaken. In fact, the words “I pity the fool” never appeared in The A-Team‘s script. The phrase was just ad-libbed by Mr. T all the time. Although the first recorded use appears in Rocky III, it doesn’t seem likely this was written in by Stallone. It appears to be just another thing he used to say all the time.
Long before Marvel was getting into the movie-making industry and cranking out massive blockbusters, the comics company was tapping into the popularity of everyone’s favorite soldiers of fortune. The company released three different comic books based on the show. At first, they were released separately, but Marvel collected them together and published them in one book, eventually. This was called The A-Team Storybook, a worthy piece of memorabilia for any serious fan. You can find it in your neighborhood bookstore, comic store, or online.
Producers intended the episode titled The Grey Team to be the last one aired as the finale to season five, but this was not to be. In fact, NBC forgot to air another episode, called Without Reservations. With an extra, unseen episode on their hands, they eventually mixed it in once reruns of the TV program had begun. In Without Reservations, Murdock wears a shirt that says “Almost Fini,” while in The Grey Team, he wears one that says “Fini.”
The Meaning Behind The A-Team
There actually was an A-Team that fought in Vietnam in real life. The name “The A-Team” is taken from the Army Special Forces’ nickname, and these soldiers were first used in the Vietnam War. In addition, A-Team is the first to engage the enemy, with Bravo Team coming in for support. Much of the show was inspired by real life, including John “Hannibal” Smith. He was very loosely based off of Lt. Col. Gordon “Bo” Gritz, referred to by Gen. Westmoreland as “The” American soldier.
Surprisingly Few Were Actually Veterans
As so many of the characters were soldiers in the show, it’s quite disappointing to realize that only three of the cast members actually served in the military. George Peppard was a Marine, Mr. T was an Army MP, and Eddie Velez was in the Air Force; that is it. Neither Dwight Schulz, who plays H.M. Murdock, nor Dirk Benedict, who plays Face, served in the military, despite their characters being decorated soldiers with hours of combat experience.
Murdock’s First Name Is Never Revealed
All the other characters’ names are provided in the show — even B.A.’s first name, which is Bosco — but H. M. Murdock’s name isn’t revealed in any episode of The A-Team. On some occasions, he is referred to as Jim by others, but that definitely doesn’t start with H. The only explanation the audience receives for these initials is that it stands for “Howlin’ Mad.” It’s highly doubtful that’s what Mama Murdock named him when he was born…
University Of A-Team
The A-Team aren’t the only ones who lay claim to that name, which is also used to refer to the University of Alabama’s team. Down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the marching band often plays the theme song to The A-Team because their team happens to have the same name, much to the entertainment of everyone in the bleachers. Who wouldn’t want that song to cheer on your team? Now we’re just mad that we didn’t get to go there.
While American audiences may be shocked at the nudity displayed in European films and TV, which is perceived to be inappropriate for younger audiences, Europeans are similarly mortified at the violence displayed in American TV and Hollywood. Germans were initially excited about The A-Team, but after screening it they decided it was too violent to show all the episodes. Only 26 of the 98 that were made ended up being aired in Germany. In The A-Team‘s defense, only one person is killed in the entire series.
The Iconic Black Van
The A-Team would be nothing without their preferred mode of transportation, a modified black 1983 GMC Vandura cargo van. Ostensibly just a van, it became a symbol for the TV show itself. Several fans loved it so much they actually built an exact replica of the van made from parts they ordered from all over the world. Eventually, the van replica made its way to the U.K. from Vermont. Now there is even a website dedicated to it.
Peppard’s Private Collection
One of the most memorable props on the set of The A-Team is undoubtedly Hannibal’s cigars. Whenever he was shown smoking a cigar, it came from George Peppard’s personal collection. Sadly, smoking is what inevitably killed him. He would smoke up to three packs of cigarettes a day, and it caught up with him. The actor, famous also for his role in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, died from pneumonia at the age of 65 while undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
The breakout character on the A-Team was B.A. Baracus, played by Mr. T. The part was written with him in mind. The initials B.A. are said to stand for “Bad Attitude,” but fans have long considered it more like a thinly veiled, PG cover-up for “Bad A**.” In The A-Team: Lease With an Option To Die episode, which featured B.A.’s mother, she reveals that B.A.’s childhood nickname was Scooter. This greatly amuses the other members of the A-Team, much to B.A.’s chagrin. His first name is eventually provided: Bosco.
Mr T And George Peppard
Mr. T and George Peppard didn’t get along at all, apparently. Mr. T got the part after he was noticed in Rocky III. Sylvester Stallone cast him to be Rocky Balboa’s adversary after seeing him appear in a strong-man competition on T.V., which he won two years in a row. Once The A-Team was on the air, Mr. T promptly became the biggest star of the show, despite the fact that he wasn’t a “proper actor” like Peppard. It didn’t help when Peppard found out Mr. T was earning more than him.
“The Man With The Gold”
Eventually, things went from bad to worst between George Peppard and Mr. T, a result of jealousy between a veteran actor and a rising young star. Cast members said that the two strong-headed actors had a complete communication breakdown at a certain point. According to Dirk Benedict, he had to act as a messenger between the two. Peppard refused to call Mr. T by his name, preferring to refer to him as “the man with the gold,” Benedict said.
Peppard And Vaughn
Despite the animosity between George Peppard and Mr. T, the show continued to be popular, until ratings dropped in the last two seasons. In a bid to reverse this and to reduce tensions between Mr. T and Peppard, producers decided to add Robert Vaughn to the cast in the fifth season. Peppard and Vaughn had done work together for the 1980 science fiction movie, Battle Beyond the Stars, and were friends. As Vaughn later recalled, he wasn’t able to save the show.
Hulk Hogan, The Great Mediator
Hulk Hogan, who makes guest appearances on the show, was wanted for more by the producers. The reason why was he got along with both Mr. T, who is also a wrestler, and George Peppard. Writers wanted to put him in more, but when push came to shove, Hulk Hogan wasn’t able to shirk his other commitments. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make additional appearances due to his previous obligations to the WWF, the World Wrestling Federation.
Innocent Of Murder
As the introduction states, the A-Team is on the run from the law for crimes they did not commit. So what happened? It turns out they received orders from their commanding officer to rob the Bank of Hanoi, yet on returning to headquarters they found everything burnt to the ground and their CO murdered. No evidence was left to vindicate them in the eyes of the court, and the A-Team were blamed for the murder of their CO.
Murdock Too Popular To Write Off
The TV executives initially wanted “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock off the show, but couldn’t bring themselves to do it. The reason why is that after screenings before test audiences, the crazy character received such high ratings and rave reviews from them that they were forced to keep him on the show. It’s lucky they did — can you imagine what the team dynamic would be without him? It seems like half of what B.A. has to say is pointed at Murdock…