Los Angeles (REUTERS) — Tough-guy actor Mr. T is famed for his scowl, and now he is glaring at a discount retail chain that the former “A Team” star says stole his likeness and made him look like a fool in their ads.
Mr. T, who lent his famous gold-adorned image to everything from TV shows and movies to action figures and a breakfast cereal in the 1980s, said Minnesota-based Best Buy Co. Inc. made unauthorized use of his 1982 breakout role in “Rocky III” to hawk its wares.
The 50-year-old Chicago-born actor sued the company Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, demanding that it stop using his image and pay him unspecified damages.
A Best Buy spokesman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit accuses Best Buy, one of the nation’s largest appliance retail chains, of running a November 2002 ad campaign featuring a boxing scene from “Rocky III,” in which Mr. T and Sylvester Stallone fight.
The chain allegedly altered the “noble and serious” boxing sequence by digitally removing Stallone and making it appear that Mr. T was boxing with a “middle aged, balding, out-of-shape” Best Buy salesman.
“At no time did Mr. T consent to Best Buy’s use of his likeness, photograph and voice … to promote Best Buy,” the lawsuit said. “Best Buy’s portrayal of Mr. T as a fool thus has the likelihood of injuring Mr. T’s business reputation and of diluting the distinct quality of Mr. T’s professional persona.”
The former pro wrestler, born Laurence Tureaud, got his big break playing boxer Clubber Lang opposite Stallone in the third installment of the “Rocky” saga.
He lent his out-sized personality and trademark line “I pity the fool,” to his role of Sergeant Bosco “Bad Attitude” Baracus on TV’s “The A Team” starting in 1983. At the height of his popularity, his mutton-chop mug was everywhere — in a Saturday morning cartoon, on an action figure, on countless TV guest appearances. But in the mid-1990s, T dropped out of sight to battle cancer, which he beat in 2001.
Mr. T reemerged on-screen in 2002’s “Not Another Teen Movie” and as a pitchman for a long-distance telephone service