Slideshow: The life and times of Mr. T

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It may be hard to believe in retrospect, but circa 1983 – besides Eddie Murphy and the King of Pop – there was no black star who burned brighter than Mr. T.

Hot off his villainous turn in the hit Rocky III and the beloved star of the hit NBC show The A-Team, T was on top of the world. He eventually had his own Saturday morning cartoon, breakfast cereal and album. Slowly but surely his popularity started to wane, but his later appearances in commercials (where he poked fun at his tough guy persona) and battle with illness (he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1995) endeared him to a whole new generation of fans.

As audiences flock to see the big screen adaptation of his action-packed 80s TV staple, theGrio looks back at the original B.A. — Mr.T.