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Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an Italian-American professional wrestler, manager and actor, who performed under the ring/stage name, "Capt." Lou Albano. He was active as a professional wrestler from 1953 until 1969 before becoming a manager until 1995. Over the course of his 42-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and three singles competitors to championship gold. Albano was one of the "Triumvirate of Terror", a threesome of nefarious WWF managers which included The Grand Wizard of Wrestling and
Freddie Blassie Frederick Kenneth Blassie (February 8, 1918 – June 2, 2003), better known as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches ...

Freddie Blassie
. The trio was a fixture 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 The 1980s professional wrestling boom (more commonly referred to as the Golden Age) was a surge in the popularity of professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whos ...
. Collaborating with
Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper Thornton (born June 22, 1953) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years. Her album ''She's So Unusual ''She's So Unusual'' is the debut studio album by American s ...
, 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. He became well known to a younger generation of fans as the actor and voice of
Mario is a fictional character created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. He is the title character of the ''Mario (franchise), Mario'' video game franchise and the mascot of Japanese video game company Nintendo. Mario has appeared ...

Mario
in '' The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!''


Early life

Albano's parents, Carmen Louis Albano and Eleanor Albano ''née'' Morrone, were of Italian heritage but both born in the United States. Eleanor was a classical concert pianist who had performed at
Carnegie Hall Carnegie Hall ( ); is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan Midtown Manhattan is the central portion of the New York City borough New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States citi ...

Carnegie Hall
and later became a registered nurse. Her brother, a physician, introduced her to Carmen in the 1930s, who was training to be an obstetrician. After marrying, they temporarily relocated to Italy while Carmen pursued his
medical degree A medical degree is a professional degree A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals ...
at the
University of Bari The University of Bari Aldo Moro ( it, Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro) is a higher education institution in Bari Bari ( , ; nap, label= Barese, Bare ; lat, Barium; grc, Βάριον, translit=Bárion) is the capital city of the Met ...
. He later co-patented a forceps instrument to assist in
breech birth A breech birth is when a baby is born bottom first instead of head first, as is normal. Around 3–5% of pregnant women Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman. A multiple bir ...
deliveries. Louis Albano was born in Italy when his father had three months remaining at the university. He was
baptized Baptism (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

baptized
in the
Vatican Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Ci ...

Vatican
, and his parents shortly thereafter returned to the
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
area aboard the RMS ''Majestic''. Lou was one of nine children, of whom five lived to adulthood. The family settled in the
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coff ...
area. Lou attended
Archbishop Stepinac High School Archbishop Stepinac High School is an Single-sex education, all-boys Catholic Church, Roman Catholic high school in White Plains, New York, United States. It was operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until the 2009–2010 school ye ...
in
White Plains, New York White Plains is a city in Westchester County, New York Westchester County is located in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a co ...
, where he competed in
track and field Track and field is a sport that includes Competition#Sports, athletic contests based on running, jumping, and throwing skills. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some o ...
, and finally rose to the position of captain of the
football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonly called ''football'' include (known as ''soccer'' ...

football
team. It was this rank that later inspired his wrestling moniker, "Captain" Lou Albano. His skills were such that he received 32 offers of full scholarship from universities around the country, and he chose the
University of Tennessee The University of Tennessee (University of Tennessee, Knoxville; UT Knoxville; UTK; or UT) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organ ...
on the strength of their football team. Here, Albano was teammates with the likes of
Darris McCord Darris Paul McCord (January 4, 1933 – October 9, 2013) was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven p ...
,
Doug Atkins Douglas Leon Atkins (May 8, 1930 – December 30, 2015) was an American professional football player who was a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chica ...
, and his roommate,
Sam Rutigliano Sam William Rutigliano (born July 1, 1931) is a former American football coach and current television football analyst for WEWS, the American Broadcasting Company, ABC affiliate in Cleveland. He served as the head coach for the Cleveland Browns ...

Sam Rutigliano
. Albano had conflicts with the dean due to poor behavior and was expelled after attempting to cheat on a final exam. He then joined the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
, but due to a childhood injury exacerbated by his football days, Albano was honorably discharged after only eight months.


Professional wrestling career


Early career (1953–1967)

Although Albano's father, retired from medicine, wanted to open an insurance agency with his son, Lou instead began training as a
boxer Boxing is a combat sport A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport that usually involves one-on-one combat. In many combat sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the opponent ...

boxer
. A distant cousin and family friend,
Lou Duva Louis Duva (May 28, 1922 – March 8, 2017) was a boxing trainer, manager and boxing promoter who handled nineteen world champions. The Duva family promoted boxing events in over twenty countries on six continents. Lou Duva was inducted into the In ...

Lou Duva
, introduced Albano to Willie Gilzenberg, a boxing promoter who later became the first titular president of the WWWF. Gilzenberg, noting Albano's relatively short stature, instead encouraged him to enter wrestling. Albano's father had himself been an amateur wrestler, and Albano himself had been introduced to professional wrestling at an event held at
Fort Dix Fort Dix, the common name for the Army Support Activity located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, is a United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is o ...
during his tenure in the Army, where he had seen the likes of
Gorgeous George George Raymond Wagner (March 24, 1915 – December 26, 1963) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in ...

Gorgeous George
,
Arnold Skaaland Arnold Skaaland (January 21, 1925 – March 13, 2007) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, ...
, Soldier Barry, and
Lenny Montana Lenny Montana (born Leonardo Passafaro; March 13, 1926 – May 12, 1992) was an American actor who played the role of feared hitman Luca Brasi in ''The Godfather''. Prior to becoming an actor, he had a successful career as a professional wrestler ...
—all of whom Albano later worked with. Gilzenberg asked Soldier Barry to help train Albano, and in 1952, the two began doing house shows in the New York area. Albano was originally seen as a "pretty boy," and wrestled as the babyface "Leaping Lou Albano". After a non-wrestling injury caused a gash on his forehead, he purposefully did not allow the scar to heal, and the minor disfigurement allowed him to turn
heel The heel is the prominence at the posterior end of the foot The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living or ...
. Now billed as the "Mount Vernon Mauler," and occasionally a pirate, he began establishing himself in the New York professional wrestling community. At this point, Gilzenberg introduced Albano to Vince McMahon Sr., promoter of the new Capitol Wrestling Corporation in
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
—the first predecessor to what is today WWE. Albano worked for Capitol Wrestling and its successors, under Vince McMahon and his son, for most of the rest of his career. Albano made little impact as a solo wrestler, working prelims in various circuits, but he achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altomare. Dubbed The Sicilians, Altomare and Albano competed as a stereotypical Italian
gangster A gangster is a criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department ...

gangster
combo in the mode of the then-popular television series '' The Untouchables''. The pair won the Midwest tag team championship on the undercard of June 30, 1961
Comiskey Park Comiskey Park was a baseball park in Chicago, Illinois, located in the Armour Square neighborhood on the near-southwest side of the city. The stadium served as the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League from 1910 Chicago White Sox s ...
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 A gangster is a criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a State (polity), state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, ...
in 1961. In Chicago,
Tony Accardo Tony commonly refers to: * Tony (given name) Tony is an English masculine given name that is diminutive form of Anthony in use in Mexico Mexico ( es, México ; Nahuan languages: ), officially the United Mexican States (; EUM ), is a List ...
and two associates "requested" that Albano and Altomare cease using the word "mafia". During their run as Midwest tag team champions, personal differences with bookers and other wrestlers resulted in the pair abandoning the territory quickly enough that they did not lose the title before leaving.


WWWF/WWF (1964, 1967–1986)

In 1964, Albano wrestled for the
World Wide Wrestling Federation Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. was an American sports promotion company. It was run by Vincent J. McMahon from 1953–1982. Operating as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the company was originally a professional wrestling Prof ...
as a singles competitor.


The Sicilians and breakup (1967–1969)

Albano returned in 1967 and again partnered with Tony Altomare as "The Sicilians". In July, they won the
WWWF United States Tag Team Championship The WWWF United States Tag Team Championship was the first version of the main tag team title in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from 1963 until 1967. Originally, the WWWF was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance operating out of the N ...
from
Arnold Skaaland Arnold Skaaland (January 21, 1925 – March 13, 2007) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, ...
and
Spiros Arion Spiros Arion ( el, Σπύρος Αρίων) born Spyridon Manousakis ( el, Σπυρίδων Μανουσάκης) (born September 1940) is a Greek–Egyptian retired professional wrestler who had an extensive and successful career, mainly in Aus ...
.Ellison, Lillian. ''First Goddess of the Squared Circle'', pp. 166–167. 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 Atlantic City, often known by its initials A.C., is a coastal Resort town, resort city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, known for its casinos, Boardwalk (entertainment district), boardwalk, and beache ...
market. But several photographs of the pair with their title belts were taken, which elevated Albano's reputation in the wrestling magazines of the time, and provided good publicity fodder later in his career. By 1969 The Sicilians disbanded and went their separate ways. Albano went as a singles competitor.


Becoming a manager (1970)

In 1970, fellow wrestler
Bruno Sammartino Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino (October 6, 1935 – April 18, 2018) was an Italian-American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, best known for his work with the WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held ...
mentioned to McMahon that Albano, a mediocre wrestler who was nonetheless an entertaining speaker, might be better utilized as a
manager Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-profit, non-profit organization, or a government body. It is the art and science of managing resources. Management includes the activities ...
. In professional wrestling, a manager might be tasked with behind-the-scenes efforts to help push forward a charge's career or handle his booking, but plays an equal or even greater role in the ring, speaking for his charge and helping rile up the crowd for or against him. Sammartino recalled: "One day I said to Vince Sr., this guy lbanoisn't the best wrestler, as a team, they lbano & Altomarecan only go so far. But he'd be a great mouthpiece for some guy. Lou has such a gift of gab that he can help out some people. As a wrestler, he just seemed limited. He was always the same. He was never looked upon by promoters as someone who could be anyone special. But as a manager, he shined. That was his calling." Albano, realizing that wrestlers had only a limited lifespan in the ring, and still dealing with his old football injury, agreed. Although it was his decision to split up his ten-year tag team partnership with Altomare, the two remained very close until the latter's death in 2003. At this time, managers were relatively rare in the pro wrestling world—WWWF had only two others. However, a promising new wrestler, Oscar "Crusher" Verdu, had just recently emigrated from Spain. His in-ring capabilities were hampered by a limited command of English, and Albano was assigned to be his mouthpiece. 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; Albano promised that Verdu would stomp on "that Italian" (Sammartino); the fact that Albano was known to be Italian himself only heightened the audience's reaction. Sammartino later said, "They wanted to see me beat the hell out of Verdu to make Albano a liar. He could get the kind of
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...
that nobody else could." The result was a
Madison Square Garden Madison Square Garden, colloquially known as The Garden or by its initials MSG, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state Stat ...

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. After losing that match, Verdu cycled out of the WWWF rotation, but Albano remained as the top heel manager for the next 15 years. Thus began his transition into the brash, bombastic manager "Captain" Lou Albano. With a quick wit and a grating personality, Albano delivered memorable and earned the scorn of the wrestling audience as he attempted to dethrone
World Wide Wrestling Federation Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. was an American sports promotion company. It was run by Vincent J. McMahon from 1953–1982. Operating as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the company was originally a professional wrestling Prof ...
(WWWF) superstar and Heavyweight 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!" Growing out his hair and beard, and packing on extra pounds, Albano gave the image of a wild man. He developed a later trademark, applying rubber bands to his beard, after having seen a homeless man do the same. He also often wore a rubber band hanging from a safety pin pushed through his cheek.


Career as a manager (1971–1984)

In January 1971, Albano was the manager when
Ivan Koloff Ivan Koloff (born Oreal Donald Perras; August 25, 1942 – February 18, 2017) was a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome ...

Ivan Koloff
ended Sammartino's seven-year reign as champion. Koloff's title reign was a transitional one, lasting just three weeks. Koloff had a typical heel run against Sammartino in 1969, but Albano spent months claiming that his previous manager had trained him incorrectly, and that Koloff would beat Sammartino under Albano's expert tutelage. The shock of Koloff's victory was such that the crowd fell totally silent, and Sammartino momentarily feared that he'd lost his hearing. Koloff and Albano were quickly rushed out of the ring by security without the championship belt as the crowd began to riot. Albano, his wife, and a family friend, who were both in attendance, escaped to a taxi outside the Garden. The mob surrounded the cab and began breaking windows, so the trio ran to a nearby bar, followed by the crowd who were pelting them with mud and objects. The mob was beginning to destroy the bar as the police finally arrived. Vince McMahon received a bill for damages totaling $27,000 ($182,378 in 2021 dollars), cementing Albano's unparalleled ability to "draw heat" (arouse anger in the audience). Another protege of Albano was "Iron" . A memorable match in 1974 featured
Chief Jay Strongbow Luke Joseph Scarpa (October 4, 1928 – April 3, 2012) was an American professional wrestler who was best known by the ring name A ring name is a type of stage name A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as a ...
applying his famous sleeper hold on . But Lou Albano interfered in the match by smashing an arm cast over Strongbow's forehead, causing him to bleed badly. It was previously alleged by Albano that Strongbow had since jumped him in the locker room, breaking Lou's arm in the process. But during the match McCord was disqualified because of "Outside Interference". Strongbow was cut wide open by Albano's bloody blows. Later Strongbow settled the score by challenging Albano to put on the wrestling tights once again. And the stage was set in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden, where he defeated Captain Lou Albano quite convincingly. Albano then resumed his role as the mastermind trying to lead his latest bad guy protege to the gold. For the remainder of the 1970s and into the mid-1980s, Albano's cadre of loyal henchmen were unable to re-secure the heavyweight championship, held by either Sammartino,
Pedro Morales Pedro Antonio Morales (October 22, 1942 – February 12, 2019) was a Puerto Rican professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are plan ...

Pedro Morales
,
Bob Backlund Robert Louis Backlund (born August 14, 1949) is an American retired Professional wrestling, professional wrestler best known for his tenures in the WWE, where he is a two-time WWE Championship, WWE Champion and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Ba ...
or
Hulk Hogan Terry Eugene Bollea (, born August 11, 1953), better known by his ring name A ring name is a type of stage name used by an athlete such as a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, or Boxing, ...

Hulk Hogan
. However, Albano guided singles wrestlers
Don Muraco Don Muraco (born September 10, 1949) is an American retired professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typical ...
and
Greg Valentine Jonathan Anthony Wisniski (born September 20, 1951) is an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, better known as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. He is the son of wrestler Johnny Valentine. Over five decades, Valentine held more than ...

Greg Valentine
to the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. Furthermore, Albano guided thirteen teams to the WWF World Tag Team Championships, including The Valiant Brothers,
The Wild Samoans The Wild Samoans was the professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with establishe ...
, The Yukon Lumberjacks, The Blackjacks, The Moondogs, The Masked Executioners, and after becoming a face (short for babyface, a wrestling term for a good guy/heroic character), the U.S. Express and the British Bulldogs. It was during his stewardship of the Valiant Brothers that Albano picked up his "Captain" nickname, as the act was promoted as "Captain Lou and the Valiants too." By the end of his career, Albano had 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,
Jimmy Snuka James Reiher Snuka (born James Wiley Smith; May 18, 1943 – January 15, 2017) was a Fijian Americans, Fijian American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. He is better known by the ring name Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. Snuka wrestled for ...

Jimmy Snuka
was unexpectedly 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,
Freddie Blassie Frederick Kenneth Blassie (February 8, 1918 – June 2, 2003), better known as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches ...

Freddie Blassie
and
Ray Stevens Harold Ray Ragsdale (born January 24, 1939), known professionally as Ray Stevens, is an American country music, country and pop singer-songwriter and comedian, known for his Grammy-winning recordings "Everything Is Beautiful" and "Misty (song) ...
, helped transform Snuka into a sympathetic figure, and triggered the most successful period of his career. Albano had previously helped turn the villainous Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson into a fan favorite, by "purchasing" Patterson's contract against his will. He also managed the U.S. Express at
WrestleMania WrestleMania is a professional wrestling event produced annually between mid-March and mid-April by WWE, an American professional wrestling promotion based in Stamford, Connecticut. WWE first produced the event in WrestleMania 1, 1985 and has s ...
.


Final storylines (1984–1986)

In 1984, Albano met pop singer
Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper Thornton (born June 22, 1953) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years. Her album ''She's So Unusual ''She's So Unusual'' is the debut studio album by American s ...
on a plane flight from
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
. Her manager, David Wolff, suggested that the two collaborate on a project at some point in the future. In 1984, the opportunity came when Lauper's video for "
Girls Just Want to Have Fun "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is a song written and first recorded in 1979 by American musician Robert Hazard. It is better known as a single by American singer Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper (born June 22, 1953) is an American ...
" needed an actor to play the singer's father, and Albano was suggested. Initially reluctant, he was convinced by his wife to agree, and Lauper and Albano thereafter formed a lifelong friendship. He appeared in several of her music videos and she appeared on
Roddy Piper Roderick George Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015), better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose pr ...

Roddy Piper
's "Piper's Pit" program to discuss the collaboration. Albano, in character, began denigrating Lauper and women in general and claimed to have written all her songs and been the only reason for her success. Lauper, in turn, assaulted Albano with her purse, and the two agreed to settle their differences in the ring. Albano and Lauper agreed to compete by proxy, each choosing a female wrestler to contend. Lauper chose
Wendi Richter Wendi Richter (born September 6, 1961) is a retired American professional wrestling, professional wrestler. She began her professional wrestling career in companies such as the National Wrestling Alliance, where she tag team, teamed with Joyce Gr ...
, while Albano chose
The Fabulous Moolah ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The c ...
. The match, scheduled for July 23, 1984, was dubbed '' The Brawl to End it All'', and was broadcast live on
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks division of ViacomCBS. Prio ...

MTV
.Shields, Brian. ''Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s'', p.87. During the match, Lauper interfered on Richter's behalf by hitting Moolah in the head with her purse, dubbed "The Loaded Purse of Doom". At the conclusion of the match, Richter had defeated Moolah for the WWF Women's Championship, which the WWF had promoted Moolah as having held for the previous 28 years.Ellison, Lillian. ''First Goddess of the Squared Circle'', p.171–173. For a time in the 1980s, Albano also managed the rock group
NRBQ NRBQ is an American rock music, rock band founded by Terry Adams (musician), Terry Adams (piano), Steve Ferguson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). The group was formed around 1965. Adams disbanded the group for a time, and they re-formed in 196 ...
. The group recorded a 1986 album, "Lou and the Q," which contained a song titled "Captain Lou"—on which Albano himself sings and rants. In the meantime, Albano had become involved in several
charities A charitable organization or charity is an organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being (e.g. educational, religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, b ...
. His brother's brother-in-law had recently died of
multiple sclerosis Multiple sclerosis (MS), also known as encephalomyelitis disseminata, is the most common demyelinating disease A demyelinating disease is any disease of the nervous system in which the myelin sheath of neurons is damaged. This damage impa ...
, and the experience led Albano to lend his time to raising awareness and funds to combat the disease, occasionally alongside Lauper. His increasingly public benevolence clashed with his in-ring persona, which violated the principles of ''
kayfabe In professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Professional wrestlin ...
''—maintaining the appearance of reality within professional wrestling—which were still strictly adhered to at the time. In 1984, Albano decided it was time, after 32 years as a heel, to turn face. He therefore arranged for Lauper to receive an in-ring award for her contributions to both wrestling and the fight against MS, for which he also came out and congratulated her. In the course of the ceremony, Roddy Piper and
"Cowboy" Bob Orton Robert Keith Orton Jr. (born November 10, 1950), better known by the ring name "Cowboy" Bob Orton, is an American retired professional wrestler. He is the son of professional wrestler Bob Orton, Bob Orton Sr., the brother of professional wrestler B ...
came into the ring to sarcastically praise Albano before breaking Lauper's award, a gold record plaque, over his head. Lauper and her boyfriend-manager David Wolff were also attacked by Piper and Orton. The melee was broken up by Hulk Hogan, but the altercation allowed Albano to now wrestle and manage as a crowd favorite. His last two (heel) singles protégés, Valentine and
Ken Patera Kenneth Wayne Patera (born November 6, 1942) is an American retired professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, ...
, were paired with
Jimmy Hart James Ray Hart (born January 1, 1943) is an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically bet ...

Jimmy Hart
and
Bobby Heenan Raymond Louis Heenan (November 1, 1944 – September 17, 2017), better known as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and , which combines athletics with perfo ...

Bobby Heenan
, respectively, after Albano's face turn. Although he continued his overblown, rambling interviews—one of the lead announcers for the WWF,
Gorilla Monsoon Robert James Marella (June 4, 1937 – October 6, 1999), better known by his ring name of Gorilla Monsoon, was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Sports commentator, play-by-play commentator, and Glossary of professional w ...
, continued to refer to Albano as "The Fountain of Misinformation"—Albano was now leading fan favorites such as The U.S. Express,
George Steele William James Myers (April 16, 1937 – February 16, 2017), better known by his ring name George "The Animal" Steele, was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, school teacher, author, and actor. His career lasted from 1967 u ...

George Steele
,
The British Bulldogs The British Bulldogs were a professional wrestling tag team consisting of cousins Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid. They competed throughout the 1980s in Britain, North America and Japan and have consistently ranked among the top tag teams in hi ...
,
Hulk Hogan Terry Eugene Bollea (, born August 11, 1953), better known by his ring name A ring name is a type of stage name used by an athlete such as a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, or Boxing, ...

Hulk Hogan
and
André the Giant André René Roussimoff (; 19 May 1946 – 27 January 1993) was a French professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in ad ...
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.


Superstars of Wrestling and UWF (1986–1991)

Albano left the WWF in late 1986 with one final match on an episode of ''
Wrestling Challenge ''WWF Wrestling Challenge'' is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with e ...
'' that aired on November 16, 1986, teaming with The British Bulldogs to defeat The Dream Team and Luscious Johnny Vailant. Albano would then make a one-time appearance on a "Piper's Pit" on an episode of ''Superstars of Wrestling'' in February 1987 to ask
André the Giant André René Roussimoff (; 19 May 1946 – 27 January 1993) was a French professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in ad ...
to reconsider his recent alignment with
Bobby Heenan Raymond Louis Heenan (November 1, 1944 – September 17, 2017), better known as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and , which combines athletics with perfo ...

Bobby Heenan
. Albano briefly worked in Herb Abrams' UWF promotion in 1991, where he hosted an interview segment.


Return to WWF and retirement (1994–1995)

Albano returned to the WWF in 1994 to manage the newly face-turned Headshrinkers, helping lead them to the WWF Tag Team Championship. He left in early 1995, making sporadic appearances as a guest from then-on, but never again as a manager.


Legacy in the WWE

The events leading up to Albano's face turn proved to be pivotal in the history of the WWF. Hogan, Piper, and Orton began a feud at Lauper's award ceremony that culminated in
The War to Settle the Score The War to Settle the Score was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with e ...
(which also featured the culmination of Lauper and Moolah's continuing feud). The outcome of the War—Hogan winning by disqualification—was the impetus for the primary match at the first
WrestleMania WrestleMania is a professional wrestling event produced annually between mid-March and mid-April by WWE, an American professional wrestling promotion based in Stamford, Connecticut. WWE first produced the event in WrestleMania 1, 1985 and has s ...

WrestleMania
, in which Albano also participated, as a face manager. More importantly, the involvement of Lauper, a celebrity completely unrelated to wrestling, in the pro wrestling world was unprecedented. MTV's decision to broadcast the Brawl to End it All tremendously increased the WWF's public profile, especially in the coveted young adult demographic. This led directly to the 1980s professional wrestling boom. ''Wrestling Observer''s
Dave Meltzer David Allen Meltzer (born October 24, 1959) is an American journalist, newsletter writer, and sports historian who reports on sports entertainment, professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Since 1983, he has been the publisher and edito ...
wrote, "Without Albano, wrestling history would have been monumentally different because if you take Lauper's involvement out of the equation, the early losses on expanding nationally and buying so much television time were on the verge of putting the company under... Without her, there would have been no MTV special, no national media publicity, and it's highly unlikely without it that the first WrestleMania would have been a success. If you take Albano's participation out of the equation, there is a good chance the McMahon expansion would have hit an iceberg and died in early 1985... the attention garnered by the Rock & Wrestling Connection, stemming from that chance meeting on an airplane between Lauper and Albano less than two years earlier, led
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), c ...
to make the decision to air ''
Saturday Night's Main Event ''Saturday Night's Main Event'' is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by WWE (previously known as the World Wrestling Federation). Premiering in 1985, it originally aired on NBC in the United States as 29 occasional r ...
'' several times per year in the ''
Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known as ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy Sketch comedy comprises a series of short, amusing scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long, ...

Saturday Night Live
'' time slot."


Television and film

Albano appeared in the 1986 film '' Wise Guys'', starring
Danny DeVito Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. (born November 17, 1944) is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. He gained prominence for his portrayal of the taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in the television series ''Taxi A taxi, also known ...
. He played the role of
Mario is a fictional character created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. He is the title character of the ''Mario (franchise), Mario'' video game franchise and the mascot of Japanese video game company Nintendo. Mario has appeared ...

Mario
,
Nintendo is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. The company was founded in 1889 as by craftsman Fusajiro Yamauchi and originally produced handmade playing ca ...

Nintendo
's
mascot A mascot is any human, animal, or object thought to bring luck Luck is the phenomenon and belief that defines the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative ...

mascot
, in both the live-action and animated segments of '' The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!'', a TV series based on the '' Super Mario Bros.'' game series. He also had roles in the TV series ''
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'', ''
Hey Dude ''Hey Dude'' is an American Western comedy series that aired from July 14, 1989, to August 30, 1991, with a total of 65 half-hour episodes produced over five seasons. The show was originally broadcast on Nickelodeon Nickelodeon (often sho ...
'', and ''Miami Vice'', the 1992 film ''Stay Tuned (film), Stay Tuned'', and was a recurring guest on the game show ''Hollywood Squares''. Albano played a villainous caricature of himself named "Captain Lou Morano" in the 1987 movie ''Body Slam (film), Body Slam'', starring Dirk Benedict and
Roddy Piper Roderick George Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015), better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose pr ...

Roddy Piper
. The film also featured cameo appearances by wrestlers Ric Flair,
Freddie Blassie Frederick Kenneth Blassie (February 8, 1918 – June 2, 2003), better known as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches ...

Freddie Blassie
, and
Bruno Sammartino Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino (October 6, 1935 – April 18, 2018) was an Italian-American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, best known for his work with the WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held ...
. Albano played the role of the father in
Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper Thornton (born June 22, 1953) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years. Her album ''She's So Unusual ''She's So Unusual'' is the debut studio album by American s ...
's music videos for "
Girls Just Want to Have Fun "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is a song written and first recorded in 1979 by American musician Robert Hazard. It is better known as a single by American singer Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper (born June 22, 1953) is an American ...
", "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" and "She Bop", as well as a cook in the video for her song "Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper song), Time After Time".


Personal life

In 1953, Albano married his high school sweetheart, Geraldine Tango. The marriage lasted 56 years, until his death. Albano has been noted by several others for his faithfulness to his wife, a rare characteristic in the on-the-road world of 1970s and 1980s professional wrestling. Albano released his autobiography, ''Often Imitated, Never Duplicated'', on July 20, 2008, through his website. The book includes a foreword by
Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper Thornton (born June 22, 1953) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years. Her album ''She's So Unusual ''She's So Unusual'' is the debut studio album by American s ...
. 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 Jersey, and was head of the Ridgewood High health department from 1974 until 2001.15, 2004&pid=1415176 Carl M. Albano Obituary
, retrieved on October 15, 2009.
Carl's students have noted that he used his brother Lou as an example of the difference between crazy and unique. George served as the principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Mount Vernon, New York and often brought Lou in to delight the school's students during their lunch hour. Vincent was an art teacher and lived part-time in a lake house in Connecticut. Eleanor was a music teacher for preschool students in Connecticut and impacts the lives of countless students through music. Albano's son, Carl Albano, has been a member of the Putnam County, New York, Putnam County Legislature since 2011. During the 1990s, Albano shed 150 pounds (70 kg) following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a Myocardial infarction, heart attack, but later recovered. Albano was sent home from the hospital and again began watching his health. The song "Captain Lou" by Kimya Dawson is dedicated to him. In 1983 the band
NRBQ NRBQ is an American rock music, rock band founded by Terry Adams (musician), Terry Adams (piano), Steve Ferguson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). The group was formed around 1965. Adams disbanded the group for a time, and they re-formed in 196 ...
wrote a song about Albano called "Captain Lou". Albano was featured as a singer on that song as well on another called "Boardin' House Pie". Both of these songs appear on NRBQ's ''Tap Dancin' Bats'' compilation, their ''Lou and Q'' spoken-word comedy record, as well as their out-of-print, hard-to-find single which Albano used to sell at his wrestling matches.


Death

Albano died on October 14, 2009, in Westchester County, New York, of a heart attack while residing in Hospice, hospice care. He was 76 years old.


Filmography


Film


Television


Music videos


Championships and accomplishments

*Cauliflower Alley Club **Other honoree (Cauliflower Alley Club#1995, 1995) *Fred Kohler Enterprises **Midwest Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tony Altomare *New England Wrestling Alliance **NEWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2011) *''Pro Wrestling Illustrated'' **Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards#Manager of the Year, Manager of the Year (1974, 1981, 1986) **Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards#Stanley Weston Award (Lifetime Achievement), Editors' Award (1994) *Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum **Class of 2009 *WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation **
WWWF United States Tag Team Championship The WWWF United States Tag Team Championship was the first version of the main tag team title in the World Wide Wrestling Federation from 1963 until 1967. Originally, the WWWF was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance operating out of the N ...
(WWWF United States Tag Team Championship#Title history, 1 time) – with Tony Altomare **WWE Hall of Fame, WWF Hall of Fame (WWE Hall of Fame (1996), Class of 1996) *''Wrestling Observer Newsletter'' **List of Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards#Best on Interviews, Best on Interviews (1981) tied with
Roddy Piper Roderick George Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015), better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, was a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose pr ...

Roddy Piper
**List of Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards#Worst Worked Match of the Year, Worst Worked Match of the Year (1985) vs.
Freddie Blassie Frederick Kenneth Blassie (February 8, 1918 – June 2, 2003), better known as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches ...

Freddie Blassie
at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
**Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2012)


Notes


References

* *
"WWE Hall of Fame Profile"


External links


Lou Albano on Posterous
*
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame profile
* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Albano, Lou 1933 births 2009 deaths 20th-century Italian male actors 21st-century Italian male actors American color commentators American male professional wrestlers American professional wrestlers of Italian descent American male voice actors Italian Roman Catholics American Roman Catholics Archbishop Stepinac High School alumni Burials in New York (state) Italian emigrants to the United States Italian male professional wrestlers People from Putnam County, New York People of Lazian descent Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum Professional wrestling managers and valets Sportspeople from Mount Vernon, New York United States Army soldiers WWE Hall of Fame inductees