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The A-Team Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

The A-Team Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

From 1983 to 1987, a crack commando unit wanted for a crime they didn’t commit made a living as hired mercenaries, protecting the little guy (and occasionally the country) from mobsters, all-around bad guys, and (in the 5th season) international intrigue. Hannibal Smith (George Peppard), Templeton “The Faceman” Peck (Dirk Benedict), H.M. Murdock (Dwight Schultz), and B.A. Baracus (Mr. T) made up this motley group of soldiers-for-hire on “The A-Team,” whose unconventional and humorous style somehow always allowed them to come out on top, defeating both the evildoers and the military police officers who seemed perpetually on their trail. The show featured plenty of cartoonish gun violence and fistfights, but it often had the guys creating makeshift weapons out of items they would find in their surroundings, like a cabbage cannon, or that time they turned Amy Allen’s (Melinda Culea) Renault Le Car into a light armored vehicle.

The series, a mid-season replacement on NBC in January 1983, made a high-profile debut complete with action figures, a novel series, a Colorforms set, and other merchandise. Its popularity waned over the years, leading to a complete revamp during the 5th and final season that included new cast members, a change of location, black ops missions for the U.S. government, and a time slot change (to Fridays). But since the show ended 34 years ago, some of the actors who made the show must-see Tuesday night TV have died. Here are the main recurring and regular cast actors from “The A-Team” who are no longer with us.

George Peppard played A-Team leader Hannibal Smith

By the time NBC executives dreamed up the premise of “The A-team,” George Peppard was a well-established Hollywood star, having first gotten noticed by the moviegoing public in 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Not only did he star in more than 25 films and in three separate NBC TV series, including “Banacek” and “Doctors’ Hospital” in the mid-1970s, but he also directed and produced works like “Five Days from Home.” He even starred in the pilot for “Dynasty,” playing the role that eventually went to John Forsythe.

The actor was said to be notoriously difficult, the Los Angeles Times pointed out, but he loved being on “The A-Team.” Its stars have called it a conservative show that Hollywood wished to fail — also perhaps the last masculine one, as Dirk Benedict said. “I realized the role would give me the chance to do the sort of thing I’ve never been allowed to do in movies. I mean, I get to disguise myself as a Chinese person, a Skid Row drunk, a gay hairdresser — I wanted to change from leading man to character actor for years now but have never been given the chance before,” Peppard told the L.A. Times.

Peppard was a well-known drinker and smoker and underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1992. While afterward his cancer was said to be in remission, he died of pneumonia in 1994 at the age of 65. He was survived by his fifth wife, Laura Taylor, three children, and three grandchildren.

John Ashley, narrator and producer, died in 1997

If you were a fan of “The A-Team,” you might be wracking your brain right now trying to figure out who John Ashley was. Well, he didn’t appear in the series (except for a cameo), but you definitely remember hearing him do that iconic voiceover in the show’s opening credits with the distinctive theme song. He narrated episodes from 1983-1986 — but, like Peppard, he was also a bona fide movie star (and singer) before “The A-Team” came along. In fact, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that, with his name listed so prominently in the credits, fans wrote creator Stephen J. Cannell to find out if it was THAT John Ashley. 

The Sun-Sentinel called Ashley “a mainstay of drive-in double features” from the 1960s since he starred in more than 35 films like “Beach Party,” “Beach Blanket Bingo,” “Hot Rod Gang,” “How To Make a Monster,” and “Young Dillinger.” In his later career, he made his mark on Hollywood by producing films like “Apocalypse Now” in 1979 before he went to work for Cannell and became an indelible, if mostly invisible, part of “The A-Team.” He is also responsible for producing shows like “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Something is Out There,” a short-lived TV miniseries-turned-series that had a few similarities to Fox’s later show, “The X-Files.”

Ashley had suffered a heart attack while doing “The Quest” as his first TV project for Cannell. On October 4, 1997, he had another one at age 62. He was survived by a wife and two sons (via Variety).

Lauce LeGault played antagonist Col. Decker

Like the others in this list, Lance LeGault was an accomplished actor before he ever appeared on “The A-Team.” His career is tied to Elvis Presley; LeGault made his start as Presley’s stunt double, ultimately starring in a dozen movies with the King, including “Girls! Girls! Girls!,” “Kissin’ Cousins,” and “Viva Las Vegas” (via However, if you were a fan of ’70s and ’80s television (and who wasn’t?), you saw him in guest-starring in everything from “Battlestar Galactica” and “B.J. and the Bear,” to “Tales of the Gold Monkey,” “Airwolf,” and “Simon & Simon.” He had quite the distinctive voice: “Knight Rider” creator Glen A. Larson once called his voice “four octaves lower than God’s,” according to his family-provided obituary. He also starred in movies like “Stripes” and “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.”

On “The A-Team,” he played Col. Roderick Decker in a recurring role; the character had a beef against Hannibal Smith (and vice versa, due to Decker’s penchant for blowing up Viet Cong hospitals), but was always the victim of Hannibal’s unorthodox style. His last appearance on the series was on “Trial by Fire,” one of the episodes that had the A-Team caught, put on trial, and sentenced to execution in advance of the Season 5 changes that resulted in its cancellation. 

In 2012, LeGault died at the age of 75 from heart failure. He was survived by his wife Teresa and four children.

Robert Vaughn played General Hunt Stockwell in the 5th season

The 5th season of “The A-Team” switched up the formula a bit, bringing the mercenaries to Langley, Virginia, where they started doing missions for one General Hunt Stockwell, who was played by Robert Vaughn: Eddie Velez as Frankie Santana and (briefly) Judith Ledford as Stockwell’s assistant Carla also joined the cast. Stockwell offered the A-Team their pardons if they would work a certain number of jobs for him. And although he was ostensibly in charge, the members of the A-Team did occasionally trick him — and even rescued him once when he was kidnapped.

Vaughn might be best known for his role as Napoleon Solo from NBC’s “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” which aired from 1964 to 1968. One of his earliest roles was as an uncredited extra in the 1956 film “The Ten Commandments”; three years later, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Young Philadelphians.” In 1978, he won the Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy for “Washington: Behind Closed Doors” (via TV Guide). He was also in TV series like “The Magnificent Seven,” and the movies “Bullitt,” “Superman 3,” and “Pootie Tang.” His lifetime credits list has more than 200 roles on it, from “Law & Order” to 1995’s “Escape from Witch Mountain” and the classic TV series “The Love Boat.” 

Vaughn acted until his death on November 11, 2016, of acute leukemia. He was 83. The actor left behind his wife Linda, son Cassidy, and daughter Caitlin (via Deadline).

William Lucking was the first military colonel to chase the A-Team around

The first military man to get bested by Hannibal Smith on “the jazz” was Colonel Francis Lynch, who was played by theater, movie, and television actor William Lucking in the first and third seasons of “The A-Team” (and was mentioned more often than he was actually seen). Lynch apparently got shuffled off A-Team duty once Decker came into the picture, but in Season 3’s “Showdown!,” he is given the opportunity to redeem himself.

Lucking started his acting career in the late 1960s with roles on shows like “Ironside,” “Mission: Impossible,” and “The Partridge Family.” He’s probably best known for his role in the TV series “Sons of Anarchy” (he played Piney Winston from 2008-2011, until Season 4), but he also starred in movies like 1972’s “The Magnificent Seven Ride,” 2000’s “Erin Brockovich,” 2002’s “Red Dragon,” and 2012’s “Contraband.” His television career includes everything from “Switched at Birth” to “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Days of Our Lives.” 

His last TV credits are from 2014, but he died on October 18, 2021, at the age of 80. His wife, Sigrid, told TMZ that he had suffered from a lifetime of injuries incurred during his stunt-heavy career. This included an 80-foot fall off a bridge during “Harold and Maude” and many broken bones over the years as a result of falling off horses during cowboy roles. “He just gave up. He was tired and in a lot of pain,” his wife said, explaining that he had been in a wheelchair for the last year of his life and suffered from breathing and heart problems. 

He is survived by his second wife, daughters Marjet and Juliana, and granddaughters Quinlan and Lilian (via the Hollywood Reporter).

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