An unexpected audition tape gave Dwight Schultz his role on The A-Team
His audition tape was shown at parties. Lucky for him, the creator and executive producer of The A-Team took notice.
In 1985, Dwight Schultz, better known as "Howling Mad" Murdock on The A-Team, was carrying a bright yellow firefighter's helmet that he was using in a television spot to promote... The B-Team?
Schultz had just filmed his first public service message spot for The Institute of Fire and Burn Education. In a 1985 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Schultz explained how The A-Team had led him to other opportunities.
"It's the first of a series of celebrity spots," he said. "They call it 'The B-Team' because their symbol is the 'B.' The Disney Studio did an animated bee for it."
The A-Team was his biggest and most notable role prior to a career in mostly classical theater. According to the interview, he had a few small roles in Hill Street Blues, Dial M for Murder, The Fan and Alone in the Dark.
Schultz was proud of his role on The A-Team, and because of his success in the series, he was able to do many events outside of the show.
Oddly, his role on The A-Team happened by accident. It was an appearance on a video tape unseen by the public that landed him his role in the series.
"About 1979, I did a videotape for NBC's comedy development department," he said. "Saturday Night Live was on the skids then and they were looking for people... I did seven minutes of anything I wanted."
According to the interview, Schultz did a scene from Beyond Therapy and he did impressions of Truman Capote, Richard Burton and Henry Kissinger reading Dorothy Parker's poems.
"It was evidently being shown at parties," he said. "In fact, it was a big hit at parties."
Among those who saw the tape was Stephen Cannell, creator and executive producer of The A-Team. Schultz got a call, and the rest is history.
The A-Team had been dragged by critics who deemed it too violent, but it became an instant hit when it premiered in 1983. Despite critics' thoughts, Schultz wouldn't let anyone rain on his parade. He was amazed at the response and fought back against it.
"I think the show's a hit because it's a comedy," he said. "It's the good guys against the bad guys. Nobody ever gets killed, they are only humiliated... We help blue collar people, farmers, small town people. That appeals to Americans. And last but not least, we have a good time."