The Inner Life of Mr. T
Okay, this isn't as juicy as the inspiration for Smithers. But I'm still reading John Ortved's unauthorized Simpsons oral history, and this passage about Mr. T — from a chapter about celebrity appearances — cracked me up.
Tim Long, writer-producer (1998–):
I had an incredible experience when Mr. T was on the show. He was telling me about the scenes in Rocky III where he lost. The reason he lost was that his mother needed money for an operation, and so he was paid to take a dive. And I said, "Well, I don't remember that in the movie." And he just looked at me right in the eye and said, "Things you don't see!" And I thought, Well that's an interesting way to look at it. He sort of invented his own movie that happened behind the scenes of the actual movie to sort of justify his behavior. He could have been fucking with me, but I was so besotted with him. It was just a magical moment.
I said to him, "I remember you put out a record called 'Mr. T's Commandments.'" And somehow he heard that as, "Mr. T, please sing 'Mr. T's Commandments.'" So he sang me the whole song. And I thought, If I'm killed by a sniper tonight, well, my life would have ended beautifully, because I have been sung to by Mr. T.