See the cast of The A-Team in their earliest screen roles

These Eighties TV action stars backed up Elvis and acted with Paul Newman when they were just starting out.

The early career roles played by The A-Team cast vary widely. The difference in age between them is one part of it. George Peppard’s first appearance on television happened when Mr. T was only four years old!

There is also a variety of famous celebrities who starred in many A-Team actors’ first projects – from Elvis to Paul Newman to Kate Jackson. Find out more about each cast members Hollywood beginnings below!

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1. George Peppard

According to IMDb, Peppard’s screen debut came in The Big Story, an anthology series adapted from a radio show about reporters narrating their biggest stories. That very first gig aired in May, 1956. His second-ever gig is more interesting, however. He played a kooky young baseball player in the teleplay series The United States Steel Hour, also in 1956. Peppard’s character rode a motorcycle into the locker room and showed up to a party dressed as a cowboy. And yes, that’s a young Paul Newman playing a teammate. 

2. Mr. T

Mr. T told Conan O’Brien that his entry into showbusiness came as a background actor in the Daley Plaza car chase scene at the end of 1980’s The Blues Brothers while working as a bouncer and body guard in Chicago. The same year that iconic movie was released, Mr. T also appeared in a few episodes of NBC’s wacky sports series Games People Play (pictured here) as a boxer and in the “World’s Toughest Bouncer” competition. This TV appearance reportedly caught the eye of Sylvester Stallone and led to Mr. T’s breakout role as Clubber Lang in Rocky III before becoming B.A. Baracus.

3. Dirk Benedict

Just over a decade before he became The A-Team’s Faceman, Dirk Benedict debuted in the 1972 low-budget drama Georgia, Georgia. Written by renowned poet Maya Angelou, the film follows Georgia Martin, a famous soul singer on tour in Sweden. Benedict plays Georgia’s love interest, an American photographer defecting from the Vietnam War in Stockholm.

4. Dwight Schultz

Dwight Schultz made his screen debut just two years before becoming Howling Mad Murdock on The A-Team. His first role came in the 1981 TV movie Thin Ice starring Kate Jackson as a teacher who begins a relationship with her 18-year-old student. Schultz played a lawyer for the school board trying to fire Jackson’s Linda Rivers. Schultz also appeared in Hill Street Blues and ChiPs early in his career.

5. Melinda Culea

Melinda Culea’s acting career also began in 1981, two years before she played Triple A in the first and second seasons of The A-Team. Her very first gig was a starring role in a failed TV pilot called Dear Teacher. The following year she appeared in an ABC After School Special and the star-studded TV movie The Rules of Marriage. Along with Elliot Gould and Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery, the film also boasted the voice of Bart Simpson Nancy Cartwright and Sean Astin three years before The Goonies.

6. Lance LeGault

As Colonel Decker, Lance LeGault was tasked with trying to capture the A-Team in 20 episodes. Before playing the TV villain, LeGault entered showbusiness twenty years earlier as Elvis Presley’s stunt double. He also appeared in background roles, making his debut playing bass behind Elvis in 1962’s Girls! Girls! Girls! He then appeared in the Presley films Viva Las VegasKissin’ Cousins and Roustabout.

7. Carl Franklin

Ten years before Carl Franklin played Captain Crane helping Col. Decker track down the A-Team, he made his screen debut in the 1973 film Five on the Black Hand Side. He then appeared in an episode of The Streets of San Francisco before landing a costarring role in the short-lived Stacy Keach series Caribe (pictured here) about two Miami cops fighting crime in the Caribbean.

8. Robert Vaughn

Robert Vaughn played General Stockwell in the final season of The A-Team but is best known as Napoleon Solo from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Ten years before his famous spy role, and 30 years before The A-Team, Vaughn first appeared onscreen in a unique episode of the Richard Boone series Medic. Instead of following Boone’s Dr. Konrad Styner, the episode tells the true story of an assistant Army surgeon, played by Vaughn, who was in the audience of Ford’s Theatre the night President Abraham Lincoln was shot.

9. Eddie Velez

Eddie Velez also joined The A-Team for the final season as special effects expert Frankie Santana. He began acting just a few years before that, starting out in TV movies like Summer Fantasy and For Love and Honor. One of his weirder early projects was the Emilio Estevez crime caper with a sci-fi element Repo Man, seen here. 

10. Marla Heasley

Three years before she worked with Hannibal, B.A., Faceman and Murdock as reporter Tawnia Baker, Marla Heasley played Lt. Trent in one episode of Galactica 1980. It was a small, uncredited role but was a precursor of sorts to her later part in A-Team. The space drama starred Dick Van Dyke’s son, Barry, who also appeared in Heasley’s last A-Team episodes, the two-part story “The Bend in the River.”

 
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sistervic 4 months ago
I wold like to thank you all for the Perry Mason show on Sunday, it's great watching the show during the week, and on Sunday. Thank you all, and God bless the whole staff.
sistervic 4 months ago
I really like the show, it's exciting, and I love the way they help everyone. It's a oldie but goodie.
George57 5 months ago
I almost have not missed an episode of the A-Team since they started airing the series. I remember George Peppard as Banacek. I actually was able to DVR an episode or perhaps movie.
WordsmithWorks 5 months ago
Maya Angelou wrote a screenplay? Go figure. And I remember The Toughest Bouncer contest on TV, as well as Mr. T competing. He definitely stood out.
PernellDH 5 months ago
After The A-Team, and T and T, Mr. T is now a Christian. God Be with you, Mr. T!
Runeshaper 5 months ago
Very cool to see all of these actors n their earlier roles (-:
LoveMETV22 5 months ago
Interesting story. The YouTube/Conan link was funny to watch. thanks for the additional info on
Lance LeGault, Wow Elvis's stunt double. Wouldn't have known that unless researching bios on him, so thanks for that interesting tidbit.
Andybandit 5 months ago
Good story. I didn't know that the A-Team actors. Were in those show before the A-Team. Good to know.
Pacificsun 5 months ago
MeTV Staff Writers, thank you for a great job giving A-Team publicity and fun stories about the individual actors! I did not know RV's first TV appearance was in Medic. But that storyline would be a really cool episode to watch.

In reading his Wiki credits, it's interesting to notice how he comes across very similar in many of his subsequent roles. Not including those of historical figures of course. But there's a stability about his basic personality that doesn't get lost in the character he's playing. Perhaps just a different twist to his perception. What's fun about the Stockwell character is that there's some double-dealing going on.

Too bad the ONLY episode you won't be showing is Season 5 Episode 6. But I think I know why.
Michael 5 months ago
I don't think anyone defected to Sweden, or Canada.

Draft dodgers who came to Canada mostly immigrated. Canada wanted immigrants, and many draft age were prime candidates. The thing Canada overlooked was that some were fugitivesfromthe draft.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter pardoned actual dodgers (deserters were different), so many went home. But some stayed.

I can't imagine itwas different for Sweden, though fewer went there.
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