Thursday, October 15, 2009

Louis Vincent Albano - Good-bye Captain

I take the easy way out today and copy the Wikipedia article on Captain Lou Albano, truly a pioneer in the sports/entertainment industry. As a child growing up, the WWWF was an important part of my relationship with my father - and Lou Albano was an important part of the WWWF. For that I thank Louis Vincent Albano - may you rest in peace....

Louis Vincent Albano[4] (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an American professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for boisterous declarations, "Captain" Lou Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his 42-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and four singles competitors to championship gold.[4] A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubber band facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects.



[edit]Early life

Albano was born on July 29, 1933 in Rome, Italy.[5] His family moved to the United States and settled in Mount Vernon, New York. He played football at and graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York.[6] After briefly attending the University of Tennessee on a football scholarship, Albano left school to join the Army.[4][7] During his tour, Albano became interested in professional wrestling when he was working at a bar as a bouncer and met two wrestlers.[4] Albano made his professional wrestling debut by beating Bob Lazaro in Montreal,Quebec in 1953.[4]

[edit]Professional wrestling career

[edit]World Wide Wrestling Federation

Albano achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altimore.[8] Dubbed The Sicilians, Altimore and Albano competing as a stereotypical Italian gangster combo.[4] Their realistic depiction of their characters caught the attention of actual mafiosi.[4] In 1967, they won theUnited States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiros Arion.[4][8]

Following the encouragement of fellow wrestler Bruno Sammartino, Albano transitioned from wrestling to announcing.[4] He transformed himself into the brash, bombastic manager Captain Lou Albano. With a quick wit and a grating personality, Albano delivered memorable promos that made him wrestling's most villainous manager. He earned the scorn of the wrestling audience as he attempted to dethrone World Wide Wrestling Federation superstar and WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino. In 1971, Albano achieved his objective when "Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff ended Sammartino's seven year reign as champion.[4] For the remainder of the 1970s, Albano's cadre of loyal henchmen were unable to resecure the championship once Sammartino won it back.[4]

Albano guided singles wrestlers Pat Patterson, Don Muraco and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine to the Intercontinental Championship.[4]Furthermore, Albano guided fifteen teams to the WWWF World Tag Team Championships, including The Valiant Brothers, The Wild Samoans, The Blackjacks, The Moondogs and The Executioners.[4][9] By the end of his career, Albano managed over 50 different wrestlers who won two dozen championships.

Albano could also help elevate wrestlers by splitting from them. In 1982, despite being managed by the villainous Albano, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka was becoming a fan favorite due to his high-flying ring style. An interview segment revealed that Snuka had no legal contract with Albano, and thus was able to leave his manager.[10] Shortly thereafter, a bloody beatdown by Albano, Fred Blassie and Ray Stevens, helped transform Snuka into a sympathetic figure, and triggered the most successful period of his career.[11]

[edit]Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection

During the 1980s, Albano appeared in Cyndi Lauper's music videos for her hit songs "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "She Bop", and "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" Parlaying the venture, new WWF owner Vince McMahon devised the Rock 'n' Wrestling storyline, a collaboration and cross-promotion between the newly renamed WWF and elements of the music industry.[12] During a public appearance at Madison Square Garden, Albano made sexist comments that outraged the singer and non-wrestling fans.[7] Furthermore, on WWF television, Albano made the audacious claims that he was Lauper's manager, that he had secretly written her songs, and that he was the architect of her success. The two settled their differences on the MTV/WWF special The War to Settle the Score. Following Lauper's victory at the event, Albano apologized to Lauper and instantly became a fan favorite and the voice of Rock 'n' Wrestling. It was also explained that Albano had undergone surgery to remove "calcium deposits" on his medulla oblongata, and that the operation had removed his evil tendencies.[13]

The crossover storyline, coupled with the Hulkamania phenomenon surrounding then-WWF champion Hulk Hogan and the first WrestleMania, triggered a period of unprecedented success for not only the WWF, but for the professional wrestling industry as a whole.[1] Moreover, Albano helped cement wrestling's place within pop culture. Following the colossal success of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, Albano left the WWF in 1986 to focus on various projects. Except for a brief return in 1994 to co-manage The Headshrinkers, Albano was retired from the wrestling industry.

[edit]Television and Film

Capitalizing on his new found celebrity, Albano began appearing in a vast array of television and film projects. Throughout the late eighties, Albano appeared in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, 227, Miami Vice, Hey Dude, Brian De Palma's Wiseguys, "Complex World" and the 1987 wrestling movie Body Slam. Expanding into music, Albano managed and performed with rockers NRBQ. He was immortalized in the song "Captain Lou" on their Lou and the Q album. Albano also periodically appeared on the John Davidson version of Hollywood Squares.

In March 1989, on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Albano had his trademark beard shaved on the air in order to star as the iconic video gamecharacter Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Along with Danny Wells, he co-starred in live action segments during interludes of the Mario cartoon, as well as providing the voice of his animated counterpart.

In 1992, Albano appeared in the John Ritter film Stay Tuned as the ring announcer for a wrestling match of the "Underworld Wrestling Federation" pitting Ritter and Pam Dawber's characters against two demonic wrestlers.

In 1996, Albano was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.[1] Two years later, he co-authored the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro-Wrestling along with Bert Sugar.[14] In his final years, Albano was semi-active in the wrestling industry with appearances at reunion events, conventions, and WWE programming.[15][16]

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Albano could often be found on local cable television promoting small businesses in Putnam, Westchester, and Dutchess Counties, NY, employing the same over the top style that characterized his 1980s stardom.

[edit]Personal life

During the 1990s, Albano shed 150 pounds (70 kg) following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a heart attack, but later recovered.

In 2008 he released his autobiography, "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated"[17] with the foreword written by Cyndi Lauper.

Albano was one of five children born to Dr. Carmen Louis and Eleanor Albano, both deceased. The other Albano siblings are Vincent, George, Eleanor, and Carl.[18]

Albano's brother, Carl, taught health for 32 years at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, NJ, and was head of the Ridgewood High health department from 1974 until 2001.[18] Carl Albano's students have noted that he used his brother Lou as an example of the difference between crazy and unique.


Albano died of natural causes on October 14, 2009, aged 76, while under hospice care at his home.[19] He is survived by his wife Geri, four children and 14 grandchildren.

[edit]Championships and accomplishments

  • Other honoree (1995)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Lou Albano's Hall of Fame Profile". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  2. ^ Associated Press (10/15/2009). "Pro wrestler, music video icon Albano dies at 76". Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  3. ^ "Wrestler, Pop Icon Captain Lou Albano Dies At 76". Oct 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Van der Griend, Blaine (October 14, 2009). "Captain Lou Albano passes away at 76". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
  5. ^ Salazar, Christian (October 14, 2009). "Pro wrestler, music video icon Albano dies at 76". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  6. ^ Stepinac Crusaders website
  7. ^ a b Pro Wrestling Radio Interview
  8. ^ a b Ellison, Lillian. First Goddess of the Squared Circle, pp. 166–167.
  9. ^ Lou Albano - Rotten Tomatoes Celebrity Profile, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  10. ^ Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka vs. Ray "The Crippler" Stevens, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, December 28, 1982, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  11. ^ Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka - Wrestling Legends - WWE Hall of Fame legend - Media Man Australia, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  12. ^ The Wrestling Museum Hall of Fame Induction Article
  13. ^ Washington Post, April 1, 1985, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  14. ^ ISBN 0028639618 (2nd edition, 2000)
  15. ^ Capt. Lou Albano's wrestling swansong comes Saturday in Shillington, 6/19/2008, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  16. ^ Bret Hart Offering Comments On Vince McMahon Tonight On Raw, Reported by Daniel Pena on 06/11/2007, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  17. ^ SLAM! Wrestling review of Lou Albano's Autobiography
  18. ^ a b Carl M. Albano Obituary, retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  19. ^ Pro wrestler, music video icon Albano dies at 76, retrieved on 2009-10-15.


[edit]External links

Preceded by
Peter Cullen
Saturday Supercade
Voice of Mario
Super Mario Brothers Super Show
Succeeded by
Walker Boone
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 &Captain N & Super Mario World


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