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Created by Webmaster on 29 Jul 2011 - 8:36. Pageviews : 5780

Home » Information » Mr. T.'s Court Battle

Mr. T.'s Court Battle

by Jeff B. Copeland

Before he was Mr. T--the gold-spangled, mohawked foil for Rocky Balboa--he was Lawrence Tero, Chicago night club bouncer and friend of club managers Calvin Hollins and John Bitoy. That much isn't in contention. But Hollins and Bitoy claim they created the character of Mr. T, got him started on the road to fame and had an oral understanding to manage his career for 20 percent of the action. Mr. T claims he made it on his own and never promised Hollins and Bitoy a fee. Now a Chicago judge has ruled on the case--and ordered Mr. T to pay the pair a total of $4.9 million

Jeffrey Goldberg, attorney for Hollins and Bitoy, says that they groomed and marketed Mr. T as a bodyguard around Chicago and then pointed him toward his first big break, a winning appearance on a televised "World's Toughest Bouncer" contest in the late '70s. Mr. T's attorney, John Goudge, says that in fact it was his client's appearance on a second "World's Toughest" show that attracted the attention of Sylvester Stallone's staff and got him cast in his breakout role boxing in Rocky III--and, by then, Mr. T, Hollins and Bitoy had gone separate ways. Mr. T went on to star in the hit '80s TV series The A-Team.

So why didn't the judge buy Mr. T's version? Goudge says that his client couldn't mount an effective defence because of personal problems. He was diagnosed with lymphoma late last year and about the same time injured both of his knees in a fall while shooting a commercial. Goudge says that Mr. T became "extremely distraught and unable to attend to his affairs. He dropped completely out of sight. In the meantime, the plaintiffs screamed and hollered."

Far from just hollering, says Goldberg, he presented written evidence and witnesses that Mr. T did indeed have a solid agreement, even though there was no written contract. Goudge says that no decision has been made on an appeal.

Mr. T had a cameo role in Spy Hard, this year's Leslie Nielsen comedy, but hasn't worked much as an actor in recent years, according to his agent, Peter Young.


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