The A-Team Trivia and Facts That Avid Fans Might Not Even Know
Do the names Hannibal, Faceman, B.A. and Howling Mad mean something to you? If so, you were probably a die hard fan of the The A-Team. The action-packed TV show hit the airwaves in 1983 and came to an end in 1987, but even after it ended, the show continued to remain popular and had a huge impact on pop culture. Mr. T can really thank the show for putting him on the map! There are still tons of behind-the-scenes trivia and A-Team facts that even the most avid fans don’t know. From bad blood between some of the actors on the show to interesting military figures who inspired the series, read here to learn some surprising trivia and facts about The A-Team.
1. Real Life Military Experience
Two main members of the A-Team cast had real-life military experience before joining the show. Lawrence Tureaud, better known as Mr. T, recruited to the U.S. Army’s Military Police Corps in the mid-’70s before he joined the cast as Sergeant Bosco Albert “B.A.” (“Bad Attitude”) Baracus on the A-Team.
The actor who portrayed Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith on the show, George Peppard, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in July 1946 and went on to serve for 18 months. He ascended to the rank of Corporal when he served in an artillery squad called the 10th Marines, based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. A third member of the show known as Frankie “Dishpan Man” Santana, the fifth member of the A-Team who joined in Season 5, was portrayed by actor Eddie Velez, who served in the U.S. Air Force until he left to pursue his acting career in 1981.
2. Mr. T’s Set of Demands
Mr. T quit the show while filming the Season 4 premiere on a cruise ship. He had just suffered the loss of a family member and the air conditioner was getting on his nerves, so he decided to have himself helicoptered off set.
When he left the set, Mr. T called the producer of The A-Team with a list of grievances and demands in order to get him back on the show, causing the producer to fire him. However, the two managed to smooth things out and filming resumed as usual.
3. Dirk Benedict Wasn’t the Original “Faceman”
The original actor who was cast in the role of First Lieutenant Arthur Templeton “Faceman” Peck was actually Tim Dunigan. After he appeared in the pilot episode of The A-Team, he admitted that he just was not the right guy for the role.
After Dunigan saw himself on camera, he proclaimed how he looked “like a high school sophomore” and couldn’t quite pull off the persona of a Vietnam War veteran. This is where Dirk Benedict stepped in and took over the role as Face.
4. Explosions, Gunfire, But No Deaths
Every episode of The A-Team concludes with gunfire, explosions, and flying guns, however, no one ever gets badly hurt when push comes to shove. The bad guys manage to get away before being thrown out a window or scramble out of the cars before they blow up.
The only implied on-screen death occurs during “The Sound of Thunder” episode when the enemy General Fullbright dies from an explosion. Other than that, the baddies seem to get away during the fight scenes, even if it’s just by a hair’s breadth.
5. The A-Team Was Strictly for Male Actors
The producers of The A-Team incorporated several female characters into the script to avoid any accusations of sexism by the public, but that didn’t stop George Peppard from stepping on the toes of the second short-lived female journalist Tawnia Baker, portrayed by Marla Heasley. According to Heasley, Peppard took her aside and told her that she wasn’t wanted there.
This anti-female sentiment was confirmed by Dirk Benedict’s outlook on The A-Team. He once stated, “It was a guy’s show. It was male-driven, it was written by guys, it was directed by guys, it was acted by guys.” He continued: “It’s about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss.” He even said, “We were the God.” He went on to say that the smoking, guns, and male bravado made the show overwhelmingly masculine.
6. Lost in Translation
While many believe that Sergeant Bosco Albert “B.A.” Baracus coined the world-famous phrase “I pity the fool,” the character doesn’t utter this favorite catchphrase even once on the The A-Team. B.A. actually preferred to call people on the show “suckers.”
The catchphrase did, however, belong to Mr. T’s character Clubber Lang in the film Rocky III. Clubber Lang, famous for his Mohawk hairstyle and gold chain necklaces, replies “I don’t hate Balboa, I pity the fool,” when asked how he feels about his boxing opponent Rocky Balboa.
7. More Animosity Behind-the-Scenes
George Peppard seemed to have a bone to pick with several cast members, and it wasn’t just with the female actors. Peppard and Mr. T didn’t get on that well, and this time the root of the problem was jealousy.
Peppard already made a name for himself for his role as Paul Varjak in Breakfast at Tiffany’s alongside Audrey Hepburn, but he got really annoyed when Mr. T stole the show and became The A-Team‘s biggest star. What ticked off Peppard even more was that Mr. T allegedly earned a higher pay check than him.
8. Close, But No Cigar!
Most of the time, John “Hannibal” Smith is seen puffing away on his cigar, but in reality George Peppard wasn’t really into cigars and actually had an affinity for cigarettes. In fact, he smoked up to three packs of cigarettes a day.
Peppard had to give up his favorite pastime after he had a lung tumor removed in 1992. Unfortunately, the damage from years of smoking had already taken its toll, and Peppard passed away at the age of 65 from pneumonia while being treated for another bout of lung cancer in 1994.
9. The A-Team‘s Pimped Out Ride
The A-Team‘s 1983 GMC Vandura van become a pop culture symbol since the screening of the show. The van’s black and red turbine mag wheels, all-black design, and the accenting red stripe and metallic gray rear spoiler have welcomed many toy productions and replica variations.
Most famous of the replicas is a UK model made from a 1982 G Series Cargo made by Liam and Jerome Brett. The brothers created a website for the van so that people can hire the van for events and special occasions. What’s awesome about this replica is that Mr. T, Murdock, Face, and Colonel Decker have autographed it, and the van has received award from UK shows and American car magazines.
10. The Spokesman for Gold Chains
After Hurricane Katrina hit the United States in 2005, Mr. T chose to give up his mass collection of gold chains. He told himself he can never wear those chains again because it would be an insult to God and all those who suffered at the hands of Katrina.
The value of gold skyrocketed in 2010, so Mr. T decided to promote a gold-buying company called Gold Promise. He spoke about how much gold really meant to him on Taking Stock, a Bloomberg Business TV show. He went on to say that he purchased his first gold chain in 1977 for $129, for which it took three months to get out of layaway. By 2010, his gold collection was worth $123,480.
11. It’s All in the Terminology
The A-Team is, in fact, part and parcel of military terminology. The term refers to a military action where the Alpha Team advances a forward attack by advancing before the B-Team or Bravo Team. The A-Team also refers to a Special Forces unit like on the TV show.
The A-Team TV show leans more towards the Special Forces corps definition because all four of the main characters form a military unit called the Ex-United States Army Special Forces. Hannibal, Face, Howling Mad, and B.A. are all mercenaries committed to performing special missions.
12. Reading Between the Lines
Almost every episode of The A-Team is littered with references and allusions to deviant behavior and illegal substances, despite the overall “clean” nature of this family-oriented show. Whenever Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith does something crazy, Baracus comments with “He’s on the Jazz, man!”
Now, the word “Jazz” is definitely the ultimate euphemism. It’s a multi-purpose brazen reference for something crazy, such as Jazz cigarettes (cannabis), Jazz salt (cocaine), and Jazz mags (pornography magazines). Trust Mr. T to come up with the correct catchphrases for every situation!
13. A Buried Finale
The intended series finale episode of The A-Team was supposed to be “The Grey Team,” but NBC aired the episode as the second-to-last episode on December 30, 1986. In the episode, Captain Murdock wears a T-Shirt brandishing the words “fini,” French for “end”, often seen at the end of old films.
The following year, in March of 1987, NBC broadcast the episode “Without Reservations” during reruns of the The A-Team. This was supposed to be the penultimate episode as Murdock’s shirt reads “almost fini.” So, not only did the order get switched, “Without Reservations” was also buried among a whole lot of episode reruns.
14. Bad Blood between George Peppard and Melinda Culea
For the duration of Season 1, Melinda Culea played the fearless and feisty Amy Amanda “Triple A” Allen, the ex-United-States-Army-Special-Forces sidekick and first-assistant journalist. However, when Season 2 came around, Culea’s character was abruptly and inexplicably written out of the show.
Many assume that Culea was forced to leave the show because of some bad blood between her and George Peppard, who allegedly turned the whole cast against her by stirring up bitterness and spreading rumors about her from the beginning. The cast eventually ganged up against her, forcing the producers to scrap her from the show.
15. The Germans Weren’t Having It
Despite the apparent nonviolent nature of The A-Team owing to the lack of on-screen deaths (even of the bad guys), German broadcasters were of the opinion that the show was actually too violent for its audience according to their broadcasting policies.
In 1989, West German broadcasters showed great interest in purchasing the rights to the show for West German television. However, seeing that the broadcasters believed there was too much violence in the episodes, only 26 out of 98 episodes were aired.
16. The Crime The A-Team Didn’t Commit Was … Robbery
According to the show’s backstory, the A-Team, otherwise referred to as the Ex-United States Army Special Forces, were involved in the Vietnam War. They were sent on a covert mission by their Commanding Officer Samuel Morrison to rob gold bullion from the Bank of Hanoi in order to end the war by stopping the Viet Cong from using the money. After a successful mission, the mercenaries discovered that a traitor double crossed the team and burned down Morrison’s headquarters, killing him.
Unable to prove that the A-Team was acting under orders because all the evidence of their mission was destroyed during a Viet Cong artillery raid, the members were tried by the military court and sent to a maximum security prison in Fort Bragg for robbery. After the arrest, the men then escape from maximum security stockade to the L.A. underground. What’s more, the A-Team are later re-tried and charged for treason, desertion, and murder because Morrison was shot twice before the building was bombed.
17. Some Questions Finally Answered
The A-Team TV show talks about a crime the group didn’t commit, but in the A-Team 2010 film adaptation, fans learn what actually went wrong. The only difference is that in the movie version, the war setting changes from Vietnam to Iraq and Commanding Officer Samuel Morrison becomes Hannibal’s close friend.
Another thing that the movie adaptation chooses to address is the origin of Baracus’s fear of flying, as well as his need to be hypnotized, clubbed, or drugged to get on a plane. These may just be film adaptations, but definitely points of interest for serious fans of The A-Team.
18. The Original B.A.’s Take on the 2010 Film Adaptation
Mr. T was certainly not a fan of the film version of the show, which starred Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson. He felt it tainted the original spirit of The A-Team, which didn’t involve death and sex and therefore appealed to the whole family.
When asked about the movie, Mr. T stated: “People die in the film and there’s plenty of sex but when we did it no one got hurt and it was all played for fun and family entertainment.” He went on to say that he was perturbed by all the graphic details because the TV show managed to do away with such tropes for five seasons.
19. Some Tough Shoes to Fill
The directors of the 2010 film adaptation, also called The A-Team, considered several actors when looking for the best person to play Mr. T’s Bosco Albert “B.A.” (“Bad Attitude”) Baracus. The filmmakers initially took some interest in the hip hop artist Common and rapper Ice Cube, but they didn’t make the final cut.
In the end, the wrestler and mixed martial artist Quinton Ramone “Rampage” Jackson was selected to play Baracus. While he doesn’t don those iconic gold chains, the fighter does sport a well-sculpted Mohawk hairstyle and has the words “pity” and “fool” tattooed on his fists.
20. Fulfilling a Childhood Dream
The South African actor, director, and producer Sharlto Copley fulfilled a lifelong dream when he landed the role as Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock in the The A-Team 2010 film adaptation. As a child, his mom banned him from watching the TV show because of its supposedly violent nature.
Copley loved the show so much that he used to watch it as a friends’ houses when he got the chance. He also used to hide a tape recorder behind the TV set in order to get an audio recording of what happened in each episode and then watch it when his parents were asleep. When he landed the role in 2010, the first thing Copley did was call his mom up and told her he took the role just because she didn’t let him watch the show as a child.
21. Hulk Hogan and the A-Team
22. More Popular Culture Inspiration
The A-Team produced a series of novels based on popular episodes that the most passionate of fans would collect. One of the titles of the books includes The A-Team: Bullets, Bikinis and Bells. Overall, 10 novelizations of the episodes have been published by Target Books.
Half of them were printed in the United Kingdom, while six more were published in the United States by Dell Books. In addition, there were even two “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style books. Most of the books are available on Amazon.
23. Comics Galore
Seeing that The A-Team is such a classic ’80s TV show, Marvel Comics released several comics with the The A-Team title from 1983 to 1984. The comics were also called the ‘3-issue mini-series” due to the popularity of the TV show and the comic series.
Following the three separate comic installations, Marvel Comics decided to package all of the parts into one series called The A-Team Storybook. Marvel UK followed suit and reprinted the US versions with a hardback option, including two summer versions called The A-Team Summer Special 1985 and The A-Team Summer Special #2 (1986). The final UK version was published in 1991, several years after the TV show went off air.
24. Some Battlestar Galactica Trivia
Dwight Schrute, eat your heart out. Several years before Dirk Benedict began his role starring in The A-Team as First Lieutenant Arthur Templeton “Faceman” Peck, he played Lieutenant Starbuck of the Colonial Service in the original 1978 science fiction media franchise television series called Battlestar Galactica.
The opening credits of The A-Team features a Battlestar Galactica in-joke where one of Benedict’s character’s original archenemies, called a Cylon warrior, walks past a confused-looking Face. Part of the credits is actually footage from an episode of The A-Team that takes place on a Universal Studios lot.
25. Some More Military Allusions
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith is based on the real-life colonel called Lieutenant Colonel James Gordon “Bo” Gritz. He was renowned as the solider in the U.S. Army Special Forces, serving for 22 years. He spent much time in the ’80s trying to recover POWs and missing soldiers from the Vietnam War.
Gritz’s popularity and media attention coincided with the conception of The A-Team TV show, and therefore Hannibal’s character was modeled after this soldier. However, Gritz heroic nature was met with much controversy with rumors of his involvement in drug trafficking, his presidential campaigns with the Populist Party that encouraged white nationalist ideals, and for accepting awards he shouldn’t have received.
26. More Name Mysteries in The A-Team
The four main characters in The A-Team are Lieutenant Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, First Lieutenant Arthur Templeton “Faceman” Peck, Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock, and Sergeant First Class Bosco Albert “B.A.” (Bad Attitude) Baracus. Some speculation was made about Baracus’s initials, but that wasn’t the case for Captain Murdock’s first name.
Even The A-Team‘s most die hard fans never learned what “H.M.” really stands for because it’s never revealed throughout the show’s five seasons. Perhaps it was just a case of adding to the already-mysterious nature of military terminology, or did the directors simply forget to provide full names? We’ll never know…
27. A Made Up Chain of Command
While The A-Team TV show derived its meaning from military terminology, it doesn’t mean it had to abide by a strict military ranking structure. On face value the four members are ranked according to Hannibal as Colonel, Murdock as Captain, Face as Lieutenant, and B.A. as Sergeant.
However, Face takes over Hannibal’s responsibility when the Colonel isn’t available because Captain Murdock isn’t regarded as fit to lead the team because of his mental instability caused by his post-traumatic stress disorder that he incurred as chopper pilot during the Vietnam War.
28. The Movie’s Take on Military Ranking
While Hannibal, Face, and Murdock retain their original military rankings from the show, B.A. is given a different rank in the 2010 film adaptation. In the TV show, B.A. is a Sergeant, but the beginning of The A-Team film portrays him as a dishonorably discharged former Corporal.
Following eight years of 80 successful missions, B.A. becomes Sergeant by the end of the film based on the stripes B.A. brandishes on his uniform during the trial scene, proving that film version changed up more than just the location and several plot lines.
29. Deleted Scene from “The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas”
The directors of The A-Team deleted a 10-minute scene from the seventh episode of the show. “The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas” was supposed to feature Face and B.A. running over a Methamphetamine lab with a bulldozer. The episode revolves around two college girls who hire the services of The A-Team to save their professor who has been kidnapped by the mob for a gambling system he invented.
Hannibal, Murdock, and B.A. disguise themselves as a secret government hit squad in Las Vegas in order to take down the mob’s boss, Gianni Christian, if he doesn’t set the professor free. After they save the professor, one of mob’s underlings toss him out the window, forcing The A-Team to escape from the mob and the cops because they are falsely accused of the murder.
30. The Unforgettable Theme Song
Who can forgot The A-Team‘s unforgettable theme song, composed by the talented Mike Post. Post also composed the signature TV theme songs for series such as NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, The Rockford Files, Renegade, Quantum Leap, L.A. Law, Magnum P.I., and Hill Street Blues.
The A-Team‘s theme song still remains prominent in popular culture because of its distinctive tune. Due to this success, Post became the go-to composer for all series created by Steven Bochco, Donald P. Bellisario, Dick Wolf, and Stephen J. Cannell.
31. It’s All In a Name
Most fans assume that the “B.A.” in Sergeant Baracus’s name stands for Bosco Albert, however, the root of the “A” was never really established and confirmed by any of The A-Team‘s directors and producers. When people ask Mr. T’s character what “B.A.” stands for, he always replies “Bad Attitude.”
Talking about names, “Bad Attitude” had a ring to it, so several countries around the world adapted some variations of the acronym. In Spanish speaking countries fans referred to the character as “MA,” meaning “Mala Actitud,” while in Italy the character was called “PE” for “Pessimo Elemento,” translated as “Terrible Element.”
32. What Became of Mr. T
After his considerable fame from The A-Team, Mr. T entered the wrestling arena and fought in professional WWF fighting events until 2001. He also pursued a career in commercials for the likes of Snickers, Comcast, and World of Warcraft, among others.
After the star was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1995, Mr. T had to limit his cameo appearances, but returned healthy and full guns blazing for his 2006 role on the reality show I Pity the Fool, broadcast on TV Land.
33. Faceman Faces the World
After The A-Team came to an end in 1987, Dirk Benedict tried his hand at theater as Hamlet. However, he earned very poor reviews and decided to return to film. Benedict went on to star in Shadow Force in 1993 and wrote and directed the TV show Cahoots in 2000.
With a few movies and TV shows under his belt, Benedict competed in the Celebrity Big Brother reality TV show in 2007. His latest performances were in the 2010 stage production of Prescription: Murder as Lieutenant Columbo, as well as his cameo appearance in the 2010 film version of The A-Team as Pensacola Prisoner Milt.
34. No More Hannibalin’ Around
George Peppard joined the cast of The A-Team at the ripe age of 55. That didn’t slow him down and neither did his lung cancer diagnosis in 1992, five years after the show came to an end. Sadly, at the age of 65, Peppard did lose his battle to cancer and died of pneumonia complications.
Shortly before his death, Peppard actually completed a pilot episode for a new series called The P.I. alongside Tracy Nelson and appeared in an episode of the TV legal drama Matlock that was to spun into a new series with Peppard playing an aging detective with Nelson as his sidekick daughter.
35. The Legacy of Howling Mad Murdock
After The A-Team, Dwight Schultz continued in the ranks of lieutenant and played Lieutenant Reginald “Reg” Barclay in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the early ’90s. He reprised the same role on Star Trek: Voyager and for the film Star Trek: First Contact.
Taking on the name of his character, Schultz hosted a conservative talk radio podcast Howling Mad Radio until March, 2009. He also made a cameo appearance in the The A-Team 2010 film adaptation, playing the role of a German doctor.
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