Not surprisingly, veteran character actor and action hero George Peppard was a former Marine. Peppard tried a number of other jobs (mechanic, taxi driver, radio announcer) before enrolling in New York's prestigious Actors Studio, where the famed Lee Strasberg became his coach. After several lean years in theater, Peppard began to get substantial roles in episodic TV dramas like Kraft Theater and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Though generally associated with tough-guy parts (like his role in Pork Chop Hill), Peppard didn't become a Hollywood favorite until he played Audrey Hepburn's love interest in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Several other classic films followed, such as The Carpetbaggers and How the West Was Won. After a succession of action movies, Peppard returned to TV in short-lived series Banacek. More film parts followed, as well as an offer to play Blake Carrington on the prime-time soap Dynasty. When his differences with NBC execs dashed that job offer, Peppard found himself on The A-Team in a lead role that was much better suited to his gruff persona. Post A-Team, Peppard again took a series of action roles through 1992. Peppard died of pneumonia in May 1994.
Cigar-chomping Col. John Smith is the Pattonesque, soldier-for-life mastermind behind The A-Team. His nickname is Hannibal, an homage to the great Carthaginian general who whupped the Romans after launching a surprise attack. Like his namesake, Hannibal is a crafty tactician and a student of war. He is forever "on the jazz" (ready for action) and he delights in his weekly victorious campaigns - hence his trademark slogan, "I love it when a plan comes together."