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10 Or So Dynamite Magazine Covers Dissected

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I grew up in an exceptionally pop culture-literate household from the late 70s through the early 90s. I probably saw more of AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies before graduating high school than maybe some of you have seen as adults. I am not bragging here. I was a nerdy “indoor kid”. While I saw most of Hitchcock’s films by junior high, I also learned how to ride a bike at 26.

All throughout my childhood, my parents bought supermarket tabloids on a weekly basis — from less than reputable garbage like The National Enquirer and The Star to comparatively respectable rags like People. I was fully immersed in the celeb gossip world well before the current age of TMZ. I was a weird kid and could tell you more than any child should be able to about People’s Sexiest Man Alive of 1987 (“LA Law” star Harry Hamlin! Suck it, Adam Levine), “Liberace’s Final Days” and the “Love Boat” actress fired for being a raging cokehead.

Dynamite magazine served as celebrity worship training wheels for kids far more normal than myself, but it was also still a vital part of my own pop culture education, albeit without exposing the habits of any raging cokehead TV stars of the 80s. For those of you too young or not even a zygote during Dynamite’s 1974 to 1992 run, here’s the lowdown.

In elementary school, every month or so you’d fill out a form to order whichever Caldecott Award-winning books or far less educational movie novelizations from the Scholastic Inc. catalog struck your fancy. Dynamite magazine was always a solid bet. You would be lured in by lively covers promising in-depth interviews with Chewbacca, Mr. T, Mork, or Punky Brewster. In order to positively mold young minds while in the same publication sharing Miss Piggy’s sartorial tips, there were also puzzles, games, recipes, and other little projects to exercise a preteen’s developing brain. You’d usually get some sort of bonus insert such as a poster, record, stickers, or baseball cards.

Predictably, I was all about the celebrity profiles, but other kids loved the magic trick tutorials (by Magic Wanda!), the commercial parodies, and “Bummers”, a feature which I can only describe as “Seinfeld”-esque observational comedy adapted to the concerns of little kids. It was very much the “what’s up with [insert thing that annoys little kids]?” approach to humor. Dynamite would reward a whole $5 and a whole lot of bragging rights to any kid whose write-in “Bummer” was chosen for publication.

Jenette Kahn, a comic book editor turned publisher and later president of DC Comics, founded Dynamite for Scholastic. She edited the first three issues, and then the next hundred were edited by Jane Stine, wife of R.L. Stine of the Goosebumps series, followed by the aforementioned Magic Wanda aka Linda Williams Aber. The first issue in March 1974 featured Hawkeye and Radar of “M*A*S*H” on the cover, and the final edition in March 1992 showcased Julia Roberts and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In between 1974 and 1992, the covers profiled three decades in television (from “All in the Family” to “Beverly Hills, 90210”), cartoons (Snoopy to “The Simpsons”), teen idols (Shaun Cassidy and Kristy McNichol to The Coreys and New Kids on the Block), movies (just about everything “Star Wars”), rock stars (which was all over the pop map from Elvis to Kiss to John Denver to the classic MTV era acts such as Men at Work and Duran Duran to Paula Abdul and Will Smith). Dynamite was such a hit, in fact the most successful publication in Scholastic’s history, that it completely turned around the company’s financial standing and inspired the very similar sibling publications Bananas and Wow.

Now, with Dynamite’s backstory thoroughly relayed, I am going to dig back into the deep, dusty recesses of time to share a few utterly essential, funny or weird issues.

Issue 10: Dy-no-mite Jimmie Walker Of “Good Times” Is Dynamite

Dynamite Issue 010

This Jimmie Walker cover utilizes what’s called a Droste Effect. This is when a picture exists within a picture and is continued infinitely. It seems like a natural for the stand-up comedian with the dy-no-mite catchphrase who played J.J. Evans on “Good Times” to make an appearance on the cover of Dynamite. If you weren’t around in the 70s, it’s easy to not know Walker. Make no mistake. He was huge. Jimmie Walker was declared “Comedian of the Decade” by Time magazine. Really, Time? Not Richard Pryor or the cast of “SNL” or some other popular but more groundbreaking 70s comedian that opted to not appear in any episodes of “Fantasy Island”? Jimmie Walker was the first winner of a NAACP Image Award, and he also had a talking doll.

More Fun Facts:

He once threw a ton of shade at “Sanford & Son” star Desmond Wilson (“Lamont”) by saying, “It’s hard to find a dull black man.”

Following a faded TV career, Jimmie Walker returned to his stand-up as well as radio host roots.

Today, he’s an anti-Obama and anti-gay marriage conservative.

Here’s a collection of commercials that aired during “Soul Train”, including a clip of Jimmie Walker endorsing Panasonic cassette and 8-track players.

The Many Spin-offs Of “Happy Days”:
“Laverne & Shirley” (Issue 28), “Mork & Mindy” (Issue 56), “Joanie Loves Chachi” (Issue 100)

Dynamite Issue 028

I am not sure about the pairing of King Kong with “Laverne & Shirley”, but the rendering of Penny Marshall’s pearly whites is far scarier than King Kong any day.

I followed “Laverne & Shirley” deeply into syndication, and I still think Laverne (Penny Marshall) is pretty fierce as a single tomboy-ish lady with attitude and eccentric taste (the OCD “L” monograms, plus the milk mixed with Pepsi addiction). Shirley (Cindy Williams) is another story. Girl was never without a boyfriend and was whiny as hell. I was a big fan as a kid, but that said, I would have preferred to watch a “Laverne & Shirley” crossover with King Kong over those crappy later seasons that inexplicably relocated almost the entire cast from ’50s Milwaukee to mid-’60s Burbank.

“Laverne & Shirley” Trivia:

The show spawned a ton of merch — dolls of Laverne, Shirley, Lenny and Squiggy, a Hot Wheels Shotz Brewery delivery van, Halloween costumes, a totally unplayable board game (trust me on this), jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, and a record. I discovered the LP in a thrift store decades after I’d last watched an episode. Neither Penny Marshall nor Cindy Williams should ever get their hands on an Everly Brothers tune again.

In 1981, towards the end of the series’ run, an animated spin-off titled “Laverne & Shirley In The Army” was part of ABC’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up. Marshall and Williams actually lent their voices to the show even though Williams would make an abrupt exit from her contract within the year. A new character created for the cartoon was a talking piglet drill sergeant named “Squealy” voiced by “Horshack” of “Welcome Back Kotter” (actor Ron Palillo). I watched a lot of cartoons in 1981, but I have zero memory of this, probably for good reason.

Dynamite Issue 056

On paper, “Mork & Mindy” is one of those spin-off concepts that had no business working even for the few years it was on the air. It started as “Happy Days” attempting to take on “My Favorite Martian” as well as a way to launch a vehicle showcasing Robin Williams, then a promising, unknown (but just as hirsute) comedian who had won creator Garry Marshall over in an audition. Mork first appeared on a few episodes of “Happy Days” to learn about humans as a delegate of his home planet, Ork. Richie and The Fonz fixed him up on a date with Laverne in a “Happy Days” meets “Mork & Mindy” meets “Laverne & Shirley” crossover. Robin Williams sold the material, and the show was briefly huge with TV viewers of all ages. It was on much less time than I remembered — only 1978 to 1982.

There was a dramatic ratings slip from the first season to the second as the focus of the show shifted from Mork’s ridiculous hijinks while adjusting to life on Earth to his romance with Mindy, which was kind of a yawner even with the eventual casting of Jonathan Winters as their baby. It plummeted from its average #3 spot in the 1978 Nielsen Ratings — which actually bested “Happy Days” at #4 — to #27. The show limped to a pitiful #60 in its final season.

Going back to the “Laverne & Shirley” cartoon, that was retooled in 1982 to include other “Happy Days”-related characters. The new “Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour” added a teenaged Mork and Mindy (and an obligatory annoying, gibberish-spouting alien sidekick) to the mix.

Dynamite Issue 100

Joanie loves Chachi, but no one loved “Joanie Loves Chachi” except maybe Dynamite magazine. This dud early ’80s sitcom made the mistake of following Richie Cunningham’s now all grown-up little sis Joanie (Erin Moran) and The Fonz’s heartthrob younger cousin Chachi (Scott Baio) to Chicago, where the “Happy Days” universe completely ceased pretending those characters were ever supposed to be from a decade other than the ’80s. I suppose that was expected since Scott Baio always looked very late 70s with his shag ‘do during the 1950s setting of “Happy Days.” That kid wasn’t even trying.

The premise: The titular couple moved to the Windy City to pursue a music career. They were so serious about getting into the biz that their only strategy was jamming out at the end of every episode with their new band in the exact same restaurant owned by Big Al (Al Molinaro) and Chachi’s mother (Ellen Travolta, John’s older sister). As a result, audiences were expected to eat up Moran and Baio, those real life teen idols getting horizontal behind the scenes, blandly and tunelessly emoting. Bad idea.  “Joanie Loves Chachi” aired roughly a year to continually dwindling viewers, a fate hastened by the misfortune of being scheduled opposite “The A-Team”. It is considered one of the biggest missteps of the Garry Marshall sitcom dynasty. It’s getting a DVD release in 2014!

Ponder This: For a long time an urban legend circulated (and was even advanced by Garry Marshall and Scott Baio) that “Joanie Loves Chachi” was a smash in Korea due to “Chachi” being similar to the Korean word for penis.

Issue 29: “The Six Million Dollar Man” aka Steve Austin vs. “The Bionic Woman” aka Jaime Sommers

Dynamite Issue 029

I am sort of confused as to why these two would need to be depicted in a deadly serious arm wrestling match. They were boyfriend and girlfriend, guys! Was this a fierce struggle for the affections of 70s children? Did one of them turn evil? Also, why does this illustration of “Six Million Dollar Man” star Lee Majors more closely resemble Gil Gerard of “Buck Rogers”?

“Fun” Things To Know About “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman”:

“The Six Million Dollar Man” initially aired as three TV movies in 1973, two of which had theme songs sung by Dusty Springfield.

The series’ original title had a negative connotation in Israel due to six million being the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Instead, the new title chosen for the Israeli market was the not-at-all catchy “Steve Austin, The Man Worth Millions”, later shortened to simply “Steve Austin.”

Jaime Sommers, “The Bionic Woman”, was caretaker of a bionic dog named Maximillion. Both dog and owner nearly died upon being rebuilt as half-robot, half-organic beings. At first their bodies rejected their new bionic parts.

At one point, the parent show and spin-off aired on different networks. Both premiered on ABC. Then ABC cancelled “The Bionic Woman”, despite decent ratings. NBC picked it up for an additional year. All crossover appearances between the shows were discontinued until a series of reunion TV movies were produced in the late 80s and early 90s — one of which starred a young Sandra Bullock as another bionic operative in training.

Like several of the other cover subjects in this article, these shows had extensive merchandising. There were dolls of both Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers as well as their boss, Oscar Goldman (not sure many kids were crying out for an Oscar Goldman doll). There were also lunchboxes, storybook records, stickers, and board games.

Possibly one of my favorite opening TV sequences:

Jaime fights fembots and a faceless manbot!

Issue 36: “What’s Happening!!” Or How Rerun Is The Freakin’ Best — Don’t You Forget It!

Dynamite Issue 036

This is one of those shows I loved as a child in, ahem, “reruns” that hasn’t translated very well to my adult tastes. I’ve tried. However, it’s probably the show referenced in this article I look up on YouTube the most. I once felt it was crucial to introduce a co-worker in her early 20s to the superfly dance moves of the late poppin’ and lockin’ Locker and “Soul Train” dancer Fred “Rerun” Berry (as well as make sure she learned about the 80s teen movie meets conservative affirmative action propaganda in blackface that is Soul Man, but that’s a whole different article).

This 1976-1979 sitcom about growing up in Watts was the first show about African-American teens to crack the Nielsen Ratings’ top 30. While ’80s spin-off “What’s Happening Now!!” was an abomination and while the writers were really into fat shaming Rerun, Mama, and Shirley non-stop… While I have my doubts that all the kids growing up in Watts were really huge Doobie Brothers fans (but what do I know) and while the annoying moppet (Little Earl) added in the final season who did less than Rich Little-quality impressions of Steve Martin really helped the show jump the shark… While Mama’s discipline style — taking a belt to Rog’s behind even though he was in high school — was crossing into some weird territory, some stuff about this show is still fun. When Rerun was selected to join the cast of a TV dance show by its cruel stars only because he was fat, and Rog went “deep cover” posing as Rerun to get revenge. Dee taping the fast food commercial. The theme song. So funky and yet a Henry Mancini composition. All. This.

Rerun bustin’ a move on the dance floor:

Issue 48: Once Mimes Were Considered Cool: Shields & Yarnell

Dynamite Issue 048

The popularity of Shields & Yarnell is one of those 70s-specific anomalies I am somewhat fascinated by. I don’t really get it, but once upon a time people liked mimes. David Bowie studied “the mime arts”. Bowie, the epitome of 70s rock ‘n’ roll cool — an understatement, a man just glacially cool — really wanted to properly convey through motion that he was trapped in an invisible box. Maybe it’s all about some weird remnant of 60s to early 70s hippie environmental improv theater that carried over well into the decade. Great miming is a talent, but it’s an art that has aged very poorly. In the 40 years since Shields & Yarnell’s many TV guest appearances and their variety show (because everyone had a variety show then) mimes, and to an ever greater degree clowns, have become personas that invoke terror, or, at minimum, provoke annoyance and mockery.

Things To Note: The poor fit of those white pants they’re wearing on the cover, with the bunching around the crotch, is seriously off-putting to me. Lorene Yarnell (RIP) appeared on “Wonder Woman” in a rare speaking role as “the ant woman” Formicida, and she was also the body to Joan Rivers’ voice as Spaceballs’ robot Dot Matrix.

Issue 53: The Bee Gees vs. The Beatles… A Battle For The Ages

Dynamite Issue 053

I can only assume that this Dynamite cover was a tie-in to the infamous, universally panned colossal bomb that ended up being the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie released in 1978 starring The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, George Burns, Steve Martin, Aerosmith, and many performers never heard from again, plus a motley assortment of 70s B- and C-listers creating an all singin’, all dancin’ version of the classic album cover in the finale. I have a high tolerance for crap (obviously) and a real taste for terrible movies, but this is one that literally makes me feel hungover by its conclusion. It was nightmare-inducing when I saw it in the theater as a three-year-old. It’s horrifically, epically bad. Yet, it only holds a 15% Rotten Tomatoes rating, much higher than I would have predicted. Infected with what could have seemed like somewhat justifiable hubris coming off of the decade-defining success stories of Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Frampton Comes Alive, The Bee Gees, impresario Robert Stigwood, and Peter Frampton respectively believed they had lucked upon a can’t lose project. One of the film’s producers was quoted as saying he expected the film to be “this generation’s Gone with the Wind” (cue the laugh track). This, my friends, is the cocaine talking.

Highlights and Lowlights of Sgt. Pepper: The only actor who speaks a word of dialogue is George Burns. I understand not giving The Bee Gees any dialogue, but instead of having the cast communicate exclusively through song ala opera (which would have been bad enough… the film version of Tommy did this), they lip synch Burn’s dialogue. There’s nothing quite like George Burns’ voice coming out of Peter Frampton’s mouth. Beatles producer George Martin was involved in this production. For that transgression, he should have been shot instead of John Lennon.

As with all disco musicals, there are sequences where mannequins come to life and dance. Alice Cooper covers “Because” as a cult leader, and I believe this is the scene that terrified me as a child. Steve Martin, as another villain, takes on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. It’s pretty similar to his turn as “The Dentist” in Little Shop of Horrors, and the biggest compliment I can offer is that it’s not the absolute worst thing in this movie. The female lead is a wannabe Olivia Newton-John who has an almost non-existent IMDB entry which lists a stint as a contestant on “Star Search” seven years after starring in this blockbuster. Aerosmith’s version of “Come Together” as well as Earth, Wind & Fire’s rendition of “Got To Get You Into My Life” are shockingly decent covers. Both cover versions still get played on oldies radio today. Spoiler: Aerosmith plays the primary villains who nearly wipe out Frampton and kill the Olivia-wannabe. Honestly, I’d like to see a reboot where 70s Aerosmith snuffs out present day Aerosmith.

Behold the trailer!

Issue 82: Away To Planet Disco With “Buck Rogers”

Dynamite Issue 082

One of the things that makes me happy the internet and streaming video exist is the availability of this campy late 70s/early 80s space opera. “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” along with the original “Battlestar Galactica” and “Logan’s Run,” epitomize a distinctly 70s take on sci-fi. Everyone wears spandex or polyester. Feathered hair is considered futuristic. Disco is still part of the dominant culture and will never fall from favor. Half the sets look like the inside of a shopping mall (“Logan’s Run” was, in fact, partially shot in a Texas shopping mall). There’s usually an awesome electronic score. Dorky robots and/or silly creature puppets are mandatory, ya know, for the kids.

This trend exploded post-“Star Wars.” Everyone in Hollywood was banking on what they hoped would be the next blockbuster set in space. “Buck Rogers” and “Battlestar Galactica” were both the work of Glen A. Larson, a producer and screenwriter responsible for a lot of TV adaptations of genre films. He was frequently accused of stealing other people’s ideas. James Garner once beat the crap out of him over allegedly plagiarizing “Rockford Files” plot outlines. Sets, props, effects, footage, and costumes were all recycled between “Galactica” and “Buck Rogers”. The caliber of guest stars rendered “Buck Rogers” a virtual “Love Boat” in space. Some “Buck Rogers” guest stars: Markie Post and Richard Moll (“Night Court”), Dorothy Stratten (a murdered Playboy Playmate), Gary Coleman, Jack Palance, Jamie Lee Curtis, and countless 60s “Batman” villains (Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Roddy McDowall, Julie Newmar).

As annoying as Twiki, the “cute”, wisecracking robot on “Buck Rogers” voiced by Mel Blanc, was, he’s now just part of the kitschy milieu. If you’re into sexy ladies in spandex, you’re in luck. Erin Gray as “Wilma Deering” is smokin’. If you like drag queens, the next best thing is the over the top scenery chewing of Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley). If you want to see dudes in spandex, be careful of what you wish for because in return you’ll get a paunchy Gil Gerard, the galaxy’s most dashing “man candy” — who happens to be sporting a major combover. Seriously, this guy is the object of a bidding war in an episode set on a planet where men are sex slaves?

Here’s an edited down version of one of my favorite episodes, “Space Rockers”, in which evil rock promoter Jerry Orbach (now known for “Law & Order”) is scheming to harness the space jazz rock stylings of Andromeda, the biggest band in the universe that visually resembles Labelle meets Daft Punk, to brainwash fans into committing mindless acts of violence. At one point Buck gives an unconvincing speech about how in “his day” (because he’s from the 20th century, folks), The Beatles really spoke to troubled kids and kept them from causing trouble.

Issue 95: Lisa Whelchel Tells The Facts Of Her Life!

Dynamite Issue 095

I doubt many people have strong opinions about this today, but Lisa Whelchel aka “Blair Warner” of “The Facts Of Life” was never my favorite young lady on the show. If I am going to break down what I considered as a child to be a reasonable order of the best to worst main characters, it goes something like: Jo (bad ass tomboy, in hindsight possible but not definite lesbian) or Tootie (silly, into rollerskating like me) at the top, Natalie in the middle and prissy, mean rich girl Blair at the very bottom until Mackenzie Astin joined the cast in 1985 during the Cloris Leachman-era as the jump the shark-inducing adopted kid. Even Mrs. Garrett and Blair’s cousin Geri ranked higher.

In real life, Lisa Whelchel also seems pretty insufferable.

During the show’s final season in 1988, she refused to perform a script about Blair being the first to lose her virginity. She had strong Christian convictions that kept her from portraying a 30-year-old character having sex (those characters were so old by what was season 9 of that show). Instead, the script was rewritten to depict Natalie losing her virginity. Whelchel wouldn’t even appear in the episode. It is the only one in the show’s surprisingly long history where Blair goes M.I.A.

Today, Whelchel is a Christian parenting expert that has authored several books on motherhood, child discipline and homeschooling. In her book Creative Correction, she advocates a technique referred to as “hot saucing”. I am not a parent, but it seems to me pouring hot sauce on a child’s tongue as punishment is, at minimum, questionable and, at worst, borderline abusive.

Here Ted Knight introduces a shrill Whelchel singing a creepy rendition of “We Go Together” from Grease with a ventriloquist dummy. Being a masochist, I am thrilled there is an awkward video out there of Lisa Whelchel performing with a dummy, and I have to admit she’s a actually solid ventriloquist. A YouTube “gem”.

Issue 103: The Heavyweight Champion Of Cartoon Cats (Rimshot)

Dynamite Issue 103

I am not sure why, but my family really likes Garfield. Not so much that anyone has committed to watching the embarrassing movies with Bill Murray voicing a CGI version of the lasagna-loving cat opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt, but enough that as a kid I saw many of the TV specials with those oh-so-smooth theme songs interpreted by Mr. Lou Rawls. I had a Garfield zodiac-themed nightgown that was mighty comfy for evenings curled up on the couch watching “Murder She Wrote” or “Golden Girls” with my parents. I guess we just liked fat, grumpy cats. I really have nothing too bad to say about Garfield. I am somewhat horrified that there was a musical adaptation that starred annoying “Doogie Howser” co-star Max Casella as Odie.

If you missed out on Fatal Farm’s “Lasagna Cat” meme from back in 2007, and you’re into the idea of adults wearing bizarre Garfield and Odie mascot costumes recreating panels from the entire history of the strip from its 1978 debut on and then performing in surreal music videos with various pop hits as accompaniment, you’re in for a treat. Here’s Garfield and Odie performing “Angela”, the theme from TV’s “Taxi”.

Issue 119: Mr. T – As You’ve Never Seen Him – Reading Books And Acting A Nerd!

Dynamite Issue 119

What is there to say about icon of the 80s Mr. T, real name Laurence Tureaud, that hasn’t already been said? If you were a child back then, he was the best thing ever. I still have a strong fondness for him. So much so that in my home city of Philadelphia on December 7 I am attending PhilaMOCA’s Jibbart Jabbart, a night celebrating him through visual art, sketch comedy and video. I had a very difficult time narrowing down the “T” factoids as well as video clips to share. His Wikipedia entry is just too entertaining.

Worthy Of Sharing:

Mr. T worked as a bouncer and later a bodyguard for seven clothes designers, five models, seven judges, three politicians, six athletes, and forty-two millionaires. He charged $3,000-$10,000 a day to protect the likes of Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and boxers Leon Spinks and Joe Frazier. I am not sure why boxers would need “T” on the case, but why not?

On his look: Mr. T based his mohawk on a National Geographic article about Mandinka warriors and thought adopting the look would be a powerful callback to his African ancestry. Mr. T started collecting gold chains out of the lost and found of a club where he was a bouncer. At one point, his jewelry collection was worth over $300,000, took him an hour to put on and even longer to clean nightly in an ultrasonic cleaner. Sometimes he opted to go to bed still wearing his heavy chains to try to get closer to how his slave ancestors felt. He donated most of his chain collection to charity while volunteering in the post-Hurricane Katrina clean-up.

In the late 80s, he settled in the tony Chicago suburb of Lake Forest and angered his neighbors by chopping down more than a hundred trees on his estate. He cited bad allergies as the reason. This drama was dubbed “The Lake Forest Chainsaw Massacre”.

Mr. T had a very short-lived reality show on TV Land in 2006 called “I Pity the Fool”. What else would it be called? In it, “T” traveled to different towns offering his unique perspective and sage advice to troubled residents.

He had an animated series from 1983-1986 called “Mister T”. In it, he solved mysteries and fought crime with the help of a team of young gymnasts he was coaching. Here is the opening sequence:

The raps on both his educational video Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool as well as his album Mr. T’s Commandments were written by another “T”, Ice-T.

Back in the 90s, I was assistant manager of a video store. On my last day I stole Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool. There’s a statue of limitations on shoplifting, right? Anyway, this educational video has since gained a bit of a reputation around the internet as a cheese classic. In it, Mr. T, along with New Edition, Martika, and an actress from the TV version of “Fame”, teaches the kids about dealing with anger, peer pressure, getting creative through badly breakdancing and rapping, eating right, respecting your elders, and much more. At first, I thought this had to be the result of a community service sentence. Turns out “T” has never had a criminal record, and this was a labor of love he recruited D.C. Cab screenwriter Topper Carew to produce. You see, Mr. T grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes, a Chicago housing project, which at the time had the largest concentration of poverty in America. Mr. T credits staying out of trouble to his mother’s love. He wanted to pay tribute to her and give back to his young fans, which is sort of sweet.

However, the video is still ridiculous. Here’s a segment where Mr. T shares his take on designer clothes and narrates the most 80s of 80s teen fashion shows ever. I can’t even begin to select the funniest quote from this. Maybe: “And here’s Marta, our subway sweetheart, taking the A train to fashion in this graffiti-inspired creation. With her mustard socks and her ketchup sash, she’s a real hot dog.”

Bask in Mr. T’s wisdom:

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