Well I've seen a bunch of Celebrity Roasts and this one without a doubt had the most eclectic group of entertainers paying tribute to Dean Martin's 'Man of the Year'. The only genuine BIG names included Bob Hope, Don Rickles and Howard Cosell, with most of the remaining guests part of the television landscape of the mid 1980's. You had young Gary Coleman from 'Diff'rent Strokes', Ricky Schroeder from 'Silver Spoons', 'Love Boat' Captain Gavin MacLeod, and Mr. T's co-star from 'The A-Team', George Peppard. Returnees from prior Roasts included Red Buttons doing his 'Never Got a Dinner' routine and impressionist Rich Little doing Ronald Reagan, John Houseman, Rodney Dangerfield and Kermit the Frog.
The thing I got out of the tribute was what a sincere and warm guy Mr. T actually is in real life, a humanitarian with a heart of gold when it comes to working with disadvantaged kids. I didn't care a lot for him when he first broke on the scene as Clubber Lang in "Rocky III" and later as Baracus on 'The A-Team'. I imagine it had to do with the splashy way he presented himself with all the gold chains and jewelry, but underneath is a caring person who battled his way out of poverty with a mother who raised a family of twelve kids and no father around. So the tough macho image he postures in his movie and TV roles is mostly bluster for the real man he hides inside.
As usual with these Roasts, the guest of honor took all the ribbing in stride and got a chance to dish it out at the end of the program. Dean Martin probably had the best line regarding Mr.T's public image when he said - "He doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink, and he doesn't party. No wonder he's so mean".
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