Louis Vincent Albano (born July 29, 1933), better known by his ring name Captain Lou Albano, is an American former professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for 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 two 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 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.
Captain Lou was born Louis Albano in Mount Vernon, New York to Dr. Carmen and Eleanor Albano. He played football at and graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York. After briefly attending the University of Tennessee on a football scholarship, Albano left school to join the Army. During his tour, Albano became interested in the WWF when he was working at a bar as a bouncer and met two WWF performers. Albano made his professional wrestling debut by defeating Bob Lazaro in Montreal, Quebec in 1953.
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 who requested the duo tone down their act. Over the next few years, The Sicilians continued their success by winning the Midwest tag team titles. In 1967, they won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Arnold Skaaland and Spiros 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.
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 who won two dozen championships.
Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection
By the 1980s, Albano appeared in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun", "She Bop", "Time After Time" and The Goonies 'R' Good Enough music videos. 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. During a public appearance at Madison Square Garden, 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 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 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. 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 has since retired from the wrestling industry.
Hollywood crossover and 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 Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, 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 March 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!. 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 1993 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 enshrined 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 Randolph Sugar. In recent years Albano has been semi-active in the wrestling industry with appearances on reunion events, conventions, and WWE programming.
In 2008 he released his autobiography, "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated" with the Foreword written by Cyndi Lauper.
During the 1990s, Albano shed 150 pounds (70 kg) following a health scare. In May 2005, Albano suffered a heart attack, but later recovered.
- Wrestlers managed
- 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 by Albano
- 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)
- The Blackjacks (Blackjack Mulligan and Blackjack Lanza)
- Entrance music
- "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
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Other honoree (1995)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Manager of the Year (1974, 1981, 1986)
- PWI Stanley Weston Award (1994)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Class of 2009
- WWF Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
- WWWF United States Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Tony Altimore
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Best on Interviews (1981) tied with Roddy Piper
- Worst Worked Match of the Year (1985) vs. Freddie Blassie at Nassau Coliseum
- Stepinac Crusaders website
- Pro Wrestling Radio Interview
- Gerwick Wrestling Timeline
- Ellison, Lillian. First Goddess of the Squared Circle, p.166–167.
- The Wrestling Museum Hall of Fame Induction Article
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- ISBN 0028639618 (2nd edition, 2000)
- PWMania.com - Bret Hart Offering Comments On Vince McMahon Tonight On Raw
- SLAM! Wrestling review of Lou Albano's Autobiography
- Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.83)
- Foley, Mick (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. ISBN 0061031011.
- Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. ISBN 9780060012588.
- "WWE Hall of Fame Profile"
- "Wrestling Museum Hall of Fame Induction Article"