|30th Anniversary of 'The A-Team'|
|By SHEILA MARIKAR and LUCHINA FISHER (@luchina)||Jan 22, 2013, 12:36 PM|
It's been 30 years since "The A-Team" debuted on NBC.
In case you're not familiar with them, a primer: The A-Team is a four-man band of ex-U.S. Army Special Forces/Vietnam War veterans/fugitives on the run for war crimes they didn't commit who become mercenaries for hire. Over-the-top violence and cartoon-like action characterized the 1980s TV series based on their misadventures.
The gang got back together in summer 2010 for the movie version of the classic show and it became one of the summer's biggest blockbusters.
But of course, the people who played the parts of Hannibal, Faceman, Howling Mad and Bad Attitude weren't the same ones who graced TV screens in the 1980s. Even the A-team can't escape getting older, and a new crop of actors were brought in to get the job done. In the movie remake, the crew were united by their shared status as Iraq war veterans.
Click through to see where the former stars of the A-Team are now and who took over.
Dirk Benedict played smooth-talking Faceman (aka Face) in the original "A-Team" series. As the A-Team's resident con man and pretty boy, he charmed his way into getting supplies the crew needed and emerged from dangerous endeavors unscathed, cleanly styled, cigar in hand. After "The A-Team" went off the air in 1987, Benedict tried his hand at theater, attempting the title role in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and earning poor reviews. Then it was on to film. He starred in 1993's "Shadow Force" and in 2000 wrote and directed his first screenplay, "Cahoots."
A foreign film and a TV movie later, Benedict dipped his toe in the waters of reality TV, competing in the U.K. version of "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2007. His "A-Team" fame followed him there: a replica of the A-Team van brought Benedict and his character's signature cigar onto the set as the "A-Team" theme tune blasted in the background. He ended up scoring third place in the competition.
Benedict divorced his wife, actress Toni Hudson, in 1995. They had wed in 1986 after she appeared in an episode of "The A-Team." They have two sons together. Benedict has another son from a previous relationship. In 1975, Benedict was diagnosed with prostate cancer and adopted a macrobiotic diet to better his health. He wrote a book about advocating a macrobiotic lifestyle in 1991, "Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy."
"Hangover" star Bradley Cooper brought Benedict's character to the big screen in the movie remake. Benedict himself made an appearance in the "A-Team" movie as well, playing Pensacola Prisoner Milt, but he hasn't acted since the film.
Pity the fool who gets in Bad Attitude's way. Mr. T brought Sgt. Bosco Albert Baracus to life and cemented his own place in pop culture history with quippy one-liners and chunky gold bling. B.A. served as the A-Team's muscle. His signature move: grabbing an adversary and hurling him in the air. He also had a knack for mechanics, and could engineer pretty much anything with a pair of pliers and a hunk of metal.
Mr. T parlayed his "A-Team" fame into personal success long before the show ended. In 1983, he lent his voice to a cartoon named after him and appeared on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." The following year, he released a motivational video, "Be Somebody ... or Be Somebody's Fool!" inspired by his iconic "A-Team" line, "I pity the fool." The video featured Mr. T's priceless advice to kids, like how to make tripping look like breakdancing. He also released a rap album in 1984 and starred in the movie "The Toughest Man in the World."
But acting and rapping weren't Mr. T's only arenas. In 1985, he broke into professional wrestling, and participated in WWF events through 2001. After "The A-Team," he scaled back his professional projects to commercials (Comcast, Snickers, World of Warcraft, among others) and cameo TV/movie appearances, in part because of his health -- he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1995.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson brought Bad Attitude into the 21st century in the movie remake. Although Mr. T himself did not star in the 2010 film, he has had small roles in other TV series and films, including "Not Another Teen Movie."
Actor George Peppard played the role of Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, the leader of the A-Team. Rarely seen without a cigar between his teeth or black leather gloves on his hands, Hannibal was known for his signature line: "I love it when a plan comes together." A master of disguise, Hannibal also took on various aliases for the A-Team.
Peppard was himself a veteran -- of war films. He starred in "The Blue Max" and "The Bravos" after finding stardom opposite Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." In the 1970s, he played millionaire sleuth Thomas Banacek in the television series "Banacek." But he's best known to younger audiences as Hannibal, joining the cast of "A-Team" when he was 55.
A lifelong smoker, Peppard was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992. But he never stopped acting. He had just completed a pilot for a "Matlock" spinoff when he died in 1994 at age 65.
Liam Neeson took over Peppard's role as Hannibal. Tall and ruddy-faced, he bears a striking resemblance to Peppard.
Relative unknown actor Dwight Schultz rose to fame playing mentally unstable Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock. Producers had planned to drop his role after the series debut, but the character was a hit with the audience, so Howling Mad was written back in. Howling was the A-Team's craft pilot. His nickname came from his time spent in a mental hospital.
After "The A-Team," Schultz starred as Lt. Reginald "Reg" Barclay in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," reprising the role for "Star Trek: Voyager" and the film "Star Trek: First Contact."
He now provides the voice for video games such as "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows," "FusionFall" and "Terminator Salvation: The Video Game."
South African newcomer Sharlto Copley, best known for his role as Wikus van de Merwe in the Oscar-nominated sci-fi film "District 9," took on the big-screen role of Howling. But Shultz made a cameo appearance as a German doctor in the film.