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Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an Americanmarker professional wrestler, manager and actor.

The Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer described Albano as "one of the most important figures when it comes to the growth and popularity of pro wrestling in the Northeast." Throughout his 42-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and four singles competitors to championship gold. Albano was part of the "Triumverate of Terror," a threesome of nefarious WWWF 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, 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.

Early life

Albano was born on July 29, 1933 in Rome, Italymarker. His family moved to the United States and settled in Mount Vernon, New Yorkmarker, where his father was a physician. He played football at Archbishop Stepinac High Schoolmarker in White Plains, New Yorkmarker. After briefly attending the University of Tennesseemarker on a football scholarship, Albano left school to join the Army. During his tour, Albano became interested in professional wrestling when he was working at a bar as a bouncer and met two wrestlers. Albano made his professional wrestling debut by beating Bob Lazaro in Montreal, Quebec, Canadamarker in 1953. He married his wife Geri the same year, a marriage that lasted until his death.

Professional wrestling career

World Wide Wrestling Federation

Albano made little impact as a solo wrestler. Albano achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altimore. Dubbed The Sicilians, Altimore and Albano competed as a stereotypical Italian gangster combo. The pair won the Midwest tag team championship on the undercard of the June 30, 1961 Comiskey Parkmarker 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 titles before leaving.

In July 1967, they won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiros Arion. Albano and Altomare only held the championship for two weeks, a title change which wasn't even acknowledged on WWWF television outside of the Atlantic Citymarker 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, Albano transitioned from wrestling to managing. 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 WWF champion Bruno Sammartino.

Albano's first high-profile protege was Oscar "Crusher" Verdu, a reportedly poor worker with a powerhouse build. 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 Gardenmarker 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. "They wanted to see me beat the hell out of Verdu to make Albano a liar," remembered Sammartino. "He could get the guys that kind of heat that nobody else could."

In January 1971, Albano was the manager when "Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff ended Sammartino's seven year reign as champion. 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 resecure the heavyweight championship. However, Albano guided singles wrestlers Pat Patterson, Don Muraco and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine to the Intercontinental Championship.

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. 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. 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. Albano had previously helped turn the villainous Pat Patterson into a fan favorite, by "purchasing" Patterson's contract against his will.

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

Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection

During the 1980s, Albano had cameos in Cyndi Lauper's music videos for her hit songs "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "Time After Time". "She Bop", and "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" The two performers had met by chance on an airplane flight in 1983. Parlaying the venture, new WWF owner Vince McMahon and Lauper's manager Dave Wolff devised the Rock 'n' Wrestling storyline, a collaboration and cross-promotion between the newly-renamed WWF and elements of the music industry. Behind the scenes, Albano was reportedly a key liaison between the two sides. During a public appearance at Madison Square Gardenmarker, Albano made sexist comments that outraged the singer and non-wrestling fans. Furthermore, on WWF television, Albano made the audacious claims that he was Lauper's real 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.

The crossover storyline, coupled with the Hulkamania phenomenon surrounding then-WWF champion Hulk Hogan and the first WrestleMania, received mainstream media attention and triggered a period of unprecedented success for not only the WWF, but for the professional wrestling industry as a whole. Albano and wrestler Roddy Piper were the two key villains of the storyline, which helped elevate wrestling's place within pop culture. "Captain Lou and I became famous together," Lauper told Newsday. "He always made me laugh... As he said, he took me up the charts from 10 to 5, to 4, to 1, to minus five, and back up to 1 again."

In July 1984, the Albano-Lauper feud culminated in "The Brawl to Settle It All," an MTV special that is still the second-highest-rated wrestling telecast in American cable TV history. Lauper "managed" Wendi Richter to a championship victory over Albano's wrestler, the Fabulous Moolah. Another MTV special the following February attracted the highest cable rating ever for wrestling; during the show, Albano became a "babyface" manager after Roddy Piper broke a framed photo over his head. Albano was "rescued" by Mr. T, an angle that led to the headline match at the first WrestleMania.

Following the colossal success of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, Albano managed good guy teams such as the U.S. Express and the British Bulldogs. He 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.

Dave Meltzer wrote about Albano's tenure with the WWF:
"While it would be unfair to others to cite Albano as the prime reason for this, his years as a heel manager starting with Verdu in 1970, through his babyface turn in 1985, were the peak of the era of Madison Square Garden wrestling. During this period, the shows as often as not sold out... He was the only constant presence from start to finish, coming out on virtually every show... Champions changed. All the wrestlers changed. Ring announcers changed. Referees changed. And fans changed. ...[Albano] was for the most part the same character who was an even bigger star at the end of his run than he was at the beginning."


Television and film

Capitalizing on his new found celebrity, Albano began appearing in a vast array of television and film projects. Throughout the late 1980s, Albano appeared in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling (in live-action segments only—the animated version of Albano was voiced by actor George DiCenzo), 227, Miami Vice, Hey Dude, Brian De Palma's Wise Guys, "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 game character 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. Two years later, he co-authored the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro-Wrestling along with Bert Sugar. In his final years, Albano was semi-active in the wrestling industry with appearances at reunion events, conventions, and WWE programming.

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.

Personal life

Albano lived in Carmel, New York (Putnam County).

Albano spent much of his post-wrestling career as a spokesman and fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, often working with Cyndi Lauper, as well as other wrestlers and celebrities.

In 2008 he released his autobiography, "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated" 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 Albano's brother, Carl, taught health for 32 years at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jerseymarker, and was head of the Ridgewood High health department from 1974 until 2001. Carl Albano's students have noted that he used his brother Lou as an example of the difference between crazy and unique.

Death

During the 1990s, Albano shed 150 pounds (70 kg) following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a heart attack, but later recovered. By October 14, 2009, Albano was sent home from the hospital and began watching his health for the first time following health problems, but he died in his sleep at age 76. He was survived by his wife Geri, four children and 14 grandchildren.

In wrestling

*Don Muraco
*Professor Toru Tanaka
*Nikolai Volkoff
*George 'The Animal' Steele
*Ivan Koloff
*Bobby Duncum, Sr.
*André the Giant
*Brian Blair
*Greg Valentine
*The Iron Sheik
*Larry Hennig
*"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
*"Crazy" Luke Graham
*Tarzan Tyler
*King Curtis Iaukea
*Blackjack Mulligan
*Baron Mikel Scicluna
*Pat Patterson
*Ray "The Crippler" Stevens (with Freddie Blassie)
*Dick Murdoch
*Adrian Adonis
*Ken Patera
*The Fabulous Moolah
*Hulk Hogan


  • Tag teams managed
*Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito
*Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika)
*The Executioners (Masked Executioner 1 and Masked Executioner 2)
*The Mongols (Bepo and Geeto)
*The Yukon Lumberjacks (Yukon Eric and Yukon Pierre)
*The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid)
*The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu)
*The New Headshrinkers (Fatu and Sionne)
*The Valiant Brothers (Jimmy Valiant, Johnny Valiant and Jerry Valiant)
*The Machines (Super Machine, Big Machine and Giant Machine)
*The Moondogs (Moondog King, Moondog Rex and Moondog Spot)
*The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham)


*"Captain Lou's History of Music" performed by himself and George "The Animal" Steele
*Another version of "Captain Lou's History of Music" performed by himself and NRBQ


Championships and accomplishments

*Other honoree (1995)


*PWI Manager of the Year (1974, 1981, 1986)
*PWI Stanley Weston Award (1994)
*Class of 2009


*WWF Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
*WWWF United States Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Tony Altimore


*Best on Interviews (1981) tied with Roddy Piper
*Worst Worked Match of the Year (1985) vs. Freddie Blassie at Nassau Coliseummarker


Notes

References



External links




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