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Lou Albano

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Louis Vincent "Captain Lou" Albano[5] (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an Italian-American profess

ional wrestler, manager and actor. He was active as a professional wrestler from 1953 until 1969, then he became a manager, until 1995.

Throughout

 

his 42-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and four singles competitors to championship gold.[5] Albano was part of the "Triumvirate of Terror," a threesome of nefarious WWF managers that also included The Grand Wizard of Wrestling and Fred Blassie. The trio would be fixtures in the company for a decade, until the Grand Wizard's death in 1983.

A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubber band facial piercings, and loud outfits,

Ring name(s) Lou Albano
Billed height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Billed weight 250 lb (110 kg)[2]
Born July 29, 1933
Rome, Italy[3][4]
Died October 14, 2009 (aged 76)
Westchester County, New York
Billed from Carmel, New York[1]
Trained by Arnold Skaaland[2]
Soldier Barry[2]
Debut 1953[1]
Retired 1995 (as manager)

Albano 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.

World Wide Wrestling Federation

He made little impact as a solo wrestler, but he achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altomare.[6] Dubbed The Sicilians, Altomare and Albano competed as a stereotypical Italian gangster combo.[5] The pair won the Midwest tag team championship on the undercard of the June 30, 1961 Comiskey Park event starring Pat O'Connor and Buddy Rogers that set the all-time record gate in the United States to that point. Their realistic depiction of gangster characters caught the attention of actual mafiosi in 1961. A credible threat on their lives occurred during a run as Midwest tag team champions, resulting in the pair abandoning the territory quickly enough that they did not lose the title before leaving.[5] In July 1967, they won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiros Arion.[5][6] Albano and Altomare only held the championship for two weeks, a title change which was not even acknowledged on WWWF television outside the Atlantic City market. But several photographs of the pair with their title belts were taken, which provided good publicity fodder later in Albano's career.

Following the encouragement of fellow wrestler Bruno Sammartino, in 1969 Albano retired from active wrestling to focus on managing.[5] He transformed himself into the brash, bombastic manager Captain Lou Albano, claiming to be "the Captain of Rubber Bands," even though military records never mention him achieving a rank above Corporal. With a quick wit and a grating personality, Albano delivered memorable promos and earned the scorn of the wrestling audience as he attempted to dethrone World Wide Wrestling Federation superstar and WWF champion Bruno Sammartino.

Albano described the strategy behind his overblown, ranting interview style:

"I just remember the point I wanna bring across, and then I just babble before, during, and after. Somehow, in the middle, I said the two or three sentences that sold tickets. Mostly, I just tried to make people want to see me get my ass kicked, and along the way, hopefully the guy I was managing would catch a beating too!"[7]

Albano's first high-profile protege was Oscar "Crusher" Verdu. Albano emphasized Verdu's physique and insisted that he had never been taken off his feet during a match. To rile up audiences, he also engaged in ethnic slurs, which were then a more common part of WWWF banter. The result was a Madison Square Garden sellout when Verdu faced Sammartino in June 1970, the first for the company in five years and a then-record gate for a wrestling event in that arena. The record lasted only a month, when a rematch brought in over $85,000 in ticket receipts. In January 1971, Albano was the manager when "Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff ended Sammartino's seven year reign as champion.[5] Koloff's title reign was a transitional one, lasting just three weeks. Albano then resumed his role as the mastermind trying to lead his latest bad guy wrestler to the gold. For the remainder of the 1970s, Albano's cadre of loyal henchmen were unable to re-secure the heavyweight championship, held by either Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund or Hulk Hogan.[5] However, Albano guided singles wrestlers Don Muraco and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine to the Intercontinental Championship.[5] Furthermore, Albano guided fifteen teams to the WWF World Tag Team Championships, including The Valiant Brothers, The Wild Samoans, The Blackjacks, The Moondogs and The Executioners.[5][8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Albano had previously helped turn the villainous Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson into a fan favorite, by "purchasing" Patterson's contract against his will.

Face turn

Albano continued managing as a heel until December 1984, when he was attacked by his former allies Roddy Piper and "Cowboy" Bob Orton during an award presentation for pop music singer Cyndi Lauper at New York's Madison Square Garden. During 1984, Albano began collaborating with Lauper, appearing in several of her music videos and working with her to raise $4 million for multiple schlerosis. Lauper -- who was presented a gold platinum record for her efforts with the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection at the beginning of the segment -- introduced Albano to recognize him for his help in raising MS awareness. Piper came into the ring to sarcastically praise Albano for his work before breaking a gold record plaque over his head. (Lauper and her boyfriend-manager David Wolffe were also attacked by Piper and Orton before Hogan ran in for the save.)

The attack segment turned Albano into a crowd favorite for the first time in his career. (His last two singles proteges, Valentine and Ken Patera, were paired with Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan, respectively, after Albano's face turn.) Although he continued his overblown, rambling interviews -- one of the lead announcers for the WWF, Gorilla Monsoon, continued to refer to Albano as "The Fountain of Misinformation" -- Albano was now leading fan favorites such as the U.S. Express, George "the Animal" Steele, the British Bulldogs and Andre the Giant into battle. The U.S. Express and British Bulldogs became the first tag teams to win the WWF Tag Team Championships with Albano as a "face" manager.

The last championship team of wrestlers that Albano managed in the WWF were The Headshrinkers in 1994. His career as a WWF (now WWE) manager ended in early 1995.

Television and film

Albano played a role in the Wise Guys (1986) film along Danny DeVito and also as the video game character Mario, Nintendo's mascot, in the live-action segments and the voice in the animated segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, which was a TV series made based upon the classic Nintendo hit Super Mario Bros. games. He also had roles in the TV series 227 and Miami Vice and the 1992 film Stay Tuned.

Lou Albano also played a bad guy spinoff of himself as the character "Captain Lou Morano", along with Dirk Benedict and Roddy Piper in the 1986 movie "Body Slam". Other wrestling greats like Ric Flair, Freddie Blassie, and Bruno Sammartino also made cameo appearances in the film.

He also played the role of the father in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "Goonies R' Good Enough" and "She Bop" music videos.[11]

Personal life

Albano was born in 1933 in Rome, Italy to parents who emigrated to the United States shortly after his birth.[2] As a teenager, Lou played American football in high school, then enlisted in the US Army after graduation. When his military career was over, Albano went to work as a bouncer and had gained interest in professional wrestling.

In 2008 he released his autobiography, "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated"[12] 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, all of whom became teachers.[13] Albano's brother, Carl, taught health for 32 years at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and was head of the Ridgewood High health department from 1974 until 2001.[13] Carl Albano's students have noted that he used his brother Lou as an example of the difference between crazy and unique. George C. Albano served as the Principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Mt. Vernon, NY and often brought Lou in to delight the school's students during their lunch hour.

During the 1990s, Albano shed 150 pounds (70 kg) following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a heart attack, but later recovered. Albano was sent home from the hospital and again began watching his health. On October 14, 2009, he died in his sleep from a heart attack.[14] He was survived by his wife Geri, four children and 14 grandchildren. He was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Putnam County, New York.

Author:Bling King
Published:Sep 23rd 2011
Modified:Jan 10th 2012

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