Mr. T Reveals How That Photo of Nancy Reagan Sitting on His Lap Came to Be
The A-Team star Mr. T and First Lady Nancy Reagan may have been an unusual friendship, but there was no denying the pair were close.
“We were wonderful,” Mr. T tells PEOPLE at a Fairfield Inn & Suites event. Mr. T and famed acrobat Nik Wallenda are helping the hotel recognize National Amazing Month throughout this month.
Mr. T, 63, partnered with the former first lady on her Just Say No campaign against drugs in 1983.
“Word got out that Mr. T was going to the neighbors and talking to kids and telling them to stay in school, don’t do drugs, listen to your mother,” the star says. “That’s when [Reagan] was about to launch her Just Say No program, so they asked would I help them. I was so honored. I’m a kid from the ghetto, from the hood, from the other side of the tracks, and I get the opportunity to work with the First Family on such a powerful cause. I was honored, I’m still honored.”
A photo of Reagan sitting on Mr. T’s lap made headlines in 1983 when he was the White House Santa, handing out Mr. T dolls to guests.
“I gave Nancy [a doll] and then another. And then somebody said ‘Hey Nancy why don’t you sit on Santa’s lap?’ And I said ‘okay.’ Back then I was all, ‘can you believe that? She’s sitting on my lap, wow.’ I was honored.”
Reagan passed away from congestive heart failure in March at age 94. Mr. T was one of many celebrity guests who paid their respects at the funeral.
“It was touching,” he tells PEOPLE. “Don’t wait for someone to pass to tell them that you love them, or tell them what you think about them. Everybody says [Reagan] was great, but I wonder if they said it to her while she was living.”