Friday, March 16, 2012

Captain Lou Albano

Louis Vincent "Captain Lou" Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an Italian-American professional 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. 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, 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.

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 sclerosis. 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. He left the WWF in late 1986, making a one-time appearance on a "Piper's Pit" on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling in 1987 to ask Andre the Giant to reconsider his recent alignment with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. After a brief run in the UWF in 1991, where he hosted an interview segment, 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 as a manager.

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