Louis Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009), better known as Captain Lou, was an Italian American professional wrestler and manager. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for making boisterous declarations, Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his forty-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and 4 singles competitors to championship gold. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubberband facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock 'n' Wrestling explosion. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, the Hall of Famer later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects.
Professional Wrestling Career
World Wide Wrestling Federation
Albano achieved moderate success as a tag team performer with partner Tony Altimore. Dubbed The Sicilians, Altimore and Albano drew considerable heat competing as a stereotypical Italian gangster combo. Their realistic depiction of their characters caught the attention of actual mafiosi. The two were approached by local mafia members who requested that the duo tone down their act. Over the next few years, The Sicilians continued their success by winning the Midwest tag team titles and later the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiro Arion.
Following the encouragement of fellow wrestler Bruno Sammartino, Albano 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. Koloff's reign marked the only time that Albano would manage a World Heavyweight champion. For the remainder of the seventies Albano's cadre of loyal henchmen were unable to resecure the championship.
Notwithstanding, Albano guided singles wrestlers such as Pat Patterson, Don Muraco, and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine to the Intercontinental Championship. Furthermore, Albano carved a prolific legacy that remains unmatched by guiding over a dozen teams to the WWWF World Tag Team Championships. Under his tutelage, Mr. Fuji and Mr Saito, The Valiant Brothers, Wild Samoans, The Moondogs, and The British Bulldogs were a few of many that solidified Albano as wrestling's premiere tag team manager. By the end of his career, Albano managed over 50 different wrestlers that won two dozen championships.
Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection
By the 1980s, Albano appeared in pop sensation Cyndi Lauper's wildly popular "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" music video. 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. Albano was the catalyst that launched professional wrestling into the stratosphere with mainstream America. During a public appearance at Madison Square Garden, the treacherous manager 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 manager 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. The crossover storyline, coupled with the Hulkamania phenomenon and the first WrestleMania, triggered a period of unprecedented success for not only the WWF, but for the professional wrestling industry as a whole. 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.
Hollywood crossover and semi-retirement
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 "227", "Miami Vice", "Hey Dude", Brian De Palma's Wiseguys 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.
In 1989, on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee", Albano shaved his trademark beard to star as the iconic video game character Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. The one-time villain hosted live action segments during interludes of the Mario cartoon, as well as providing the voice of his animated counterpart.
Albano also went on to star in several local commercials on Putnam and northern Westchester cable systems, including ads for Tireman's Tires and Golden House Chinese restaurant.
During the 1990s, Albano became a vegetarian and shed 150 lbs. following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a heart attack, but later recovered. Despite his health issues and foray into mainstream entertainment, Albano continued to be involved in the wrestling industry until shortly before his death.
Albano co-authored the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro-Wrestling. In 1996, Albano was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. Captain Lou made a brief appearance on the June 11th episode of Monday Night Raw, paying his respects to the career of WWE owner Vince McMahon.
Albano died of natural causes at age 76 on October 14, 2009 in Carmel, New York. His health had been deteriorating for some time and he was in hospice care at the time of his death.
- "Often imitated, never duplicated."
- "That guy has the brain of a dehydrated BB."
- "He's my twin brother from different mothers."
- "I'm Captain Lou, and I'm talking to you."
- "I'm hell when I'm well and I'm never sick."
- "I'm a legend in my own mind and I'm welcome to it."
- Wrestlers managed
- Don Muraco
- Toru Tanaka
- Nikolai Volkoff
- George 'The Animal' Steele
- Ivan Koloff
- Bobby Duncum Sr.
- Andre The Giant
- Greg Valentine
- Larry Hennig
- "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
- "Crazy" Luke Graham
- Tarzan Tyler
- King Curtis Iaukea
- Baron Mikel Scicluna
- Pat Patterson
- Ray "The Crippler" Stevens (with Freddie Blassie)
- Dick Murdoch
- Adrian Adonis
- Ken Patera
- The Fabulous Moolah
- Tag Teams managed by Albano
- Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito
- Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika)
- The Executioners (Masked Executioner 1 & Masked Executioner 2)
- The Mongols (Bepo & Geeto)
- The Yukon Lumberjacks (Yukon Eric & Yukon Pierre)
- The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
- The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu)
- The New Headshrinkers (Fatu & Sionne)
- The Valiant Brothers (Jimmy Valiant, Johnny Valiant & Jerry Valiant)
- The Machines (Super Machine, Big Machine & Giant Machine)
- The Moondogs (Moondog King, Moondog Rex & Moondog Spot)
- The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham)
- The Blackjacks Blackjack Mulligan and Blackjack Lanza