Dead, Louis Vincent “Captain Lou” Albano on October 14, 2009 at the age of 76, he was an Italian-born American professional wrestler, manager and actor. Born on July 29, 1933, 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 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 at the University of Bari. He later co-patented a forceps instrument to assist in breech birth deliveries.
Lou attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, where he competed in track and field, and finally rose to the position of captain of the 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 on the strength of their football team.
Here, Albano was teammates with the likes of Darris McCord, Doug Atkins, and his roommate, Sam Rutigliano. Albano had conflicts with the dean due to poor behaviour and was expelled after attempting to cheat on a final exam.
A distant cousin and family friend, 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 during his tenure in the Army, where he had seen the likes of Gorgeous George, Arnold Skaaland, Soldier Barry, and Lenny Montana — all of whom Albano later worked with.
In January 1971, Albano was the manager when Ivan Koloff ended Sammartino’s seven-year reign as champion. Koloff’s title reign was a transitional one, lasting just three weeks.
Koloff had 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.
In the 1980s, as the WWE emerged as a popular form of mainstream entertainment, Albano softened his public persona. He befriended pop star Cyndi Lauper, appearing in the music videos for her hits “Time After Time,” “She Bop” and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”
After a much-publicized scripted feud between the two, Albano and Lauper agreed to settle their grudge at a special event called “The Brawl to End it All,” promoted by both MTV and the WWE.
Lauper and Albano each chose a female wrestler to represent them. When Lauper’s wrestler Wendi Richter pinned Albano’s representative The Fabulous Moolah, Albano publicly apologized, and his character within the wrestling world transformed from evil schemer to fan favourite.
Albano’s last foray into the wrestling world came in 1994, when he returned briefly to manage the Headshrinkers tag team. Captain Lou Albano was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. In his later years, he appeared frequently on cable-access television to promote local businesses around his home in Westchester County, New York.