Meet the man who played ''Fake B.A. Baracus'' on The A-Team
In the 1980s, Tony Brubaker did stunts for everyone from Mr. T to the Predator.
In more than 90 episodes of The A-Team, Tony Brubaker could be found on set among the trucks, vans and jeeps, waiting to stand in whenever Mr. T needed him.
Brubaker had been a Hollywood stuntman for more than a decade when he got cast to play “Fake B.A. Baracus” and do the crazy scenes that tough-guy Mr. T couldn’t safely perform in.
To play Fake B.A., Brubaker wore a rubber skullcap with a haircut mimicking Mr. T’s Mandingo African tribesman style (Mr. T says “It’s not a Mohawk”).
Sometimes when visitors would come to set and want to talk to Mr. T, they’d settle for chatting up Brubaker.
Any time Brubaker was called to action, Mr. T could be found sitting off to the side. There, he was protected from some of The A-Team’s most explosive action sequences, perched on a truck tailgate and sipping from cold cans of iced tea.
Brubaker got his start in Hollywood in 1970, serving as stunt double for stars like Sidney Poitier and Jim Brown.
He was championed by another stuntman named Eddie Smith.
Smith co-founded the Black Stuntmen’s Association in 1967 and used his experience doing stunts in TV shows and movies to advocate for other talented stuntmen and women.
As a stuntman, Smith might’ve been one of the toughest and most dedicated to professionalism. When he was one of two stuntmen involved in a helicopter crash on the set of the M*A*S*H movie, he didn’t tell anyone how bad he hurt his leg. Instead, he finished working on the film and ended up with a life-long limp.
Similarly dedicated, Brubaker was an early protégé of Smith’s.
Brubaker made headlines for stunt work in the TV show The Rebels and then primarily performed stunts in movies from that point on.
By the 1980s, he had become a go-to stuntman, leaping from cars and taking punches in movies like Predator, Ghostbusters, Tron, and Conan the Barbarian. He even did stunts as the Predator.
Arguably nowhere was he valued more than on The A-Team, a TV show that depended on sensational stunts to keep viewers tuned in.
It didn’t matter what The A-Team threw at Brubaker, he could handle it.
From the beginning of his career, Brubaker proved to be fearless. He told The Courier in 1970 that he never considered stunt work dangerous, but “hazardous.”
“I can’t afford to really fear a horse, for example,” Brubaker said. “But I always respect the fact that it can hurt me.”
He was mostly called because of his skills as a horseman and fearlessness on a motorcycle.
Later in his career, Brubaker would face tragedy when serving as Danny Glover’s double in the 1997 family movie Gone Fishin’.
He was performing a daring stunt when the boat he was driving spun out of control.
Instead of soaring safely off a jump ramp, the Los Angeles Times reported that “The boat bounced off the ramp,” and then “flew at a wild angle.”
Brubaker was flung from the boat, but four others sustained serious injuries from the crash, and one stuntwoman named Janet Wilder died.
Though shaken by the tragedy, Brubaker continued working, playing double to Michael Dorn in Star Trek: Insurrection and performing stunts in 2000s blockbusters like Spider-Man.
More recently, Brubaker has been more selective in the stunt work he does. Five decades into his career, he was last seen in a 2019 movie Harriet.
Last year, he did an interview with Stunt Tales: Falling for the Stars, where he joked about being the last of his generation of, he estimates, maybe 600 stunt performers total.
As someone who grew up riding horses, then graduated to riding motorcycles, Brubaker felt lucky to find stunt work when he did. He said he made a lucrative career out of his impulse for thrill-seeking.
“I was blessed because I had the ability to do stuff,” Brubaker said. “The stuff that I did for fun was the stuff that the business needed stunt guys to do.”