Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Captain Lou

Captain Lou Albano, the crazed and charismatic wrestling icon who played Cyndi Lauper's dad in her "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, has died. He was 76.

Albano - known for his wild goatee, usually tamed by a rubber band, and his half-open Hawaiian shirts - was a wrestling world fixture for more than a half-century.

He was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1996, paying tribute to Albano's management of 15 WWE tag team champions and WWE title holder Ivan Koloff.

The colorful and kooky Albano was dubbed "The Guiding Light" for his "management" work.

"One of the company's most popular and charismatic legends," the WWE said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed."

But Albano's success transcended the ring and catapulted the Captain into pop culture.

The band NRBQ paid homage with their song "Captain Lou," and he appeared in a number of "Miami Vice" episodes along with several films.

His biggest moment came when he teamed with Lauper for a string of videos in 1985, playing her father. The "Rock N Wrestling Connection" helped boost both Lauper's record sales and the WWE's ratings.

Albano also played Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, a hybrid live-action/animated show.

No one was faster to sing the captain's praises than Albano himself.

"Often imitated, never duplicated," was his repeated self-assessment.

He was once a wrestler himself, launching his career in Canada in 1953.

He moved to the WWWF - a WWE precursor - in the early '60s, and won a tag-team title in 1967 by defeating a two-man pairing that included Bruno Sammartino.

Albano found his true calling in the corner, managing other wrestlers with antics that rivaled anything going on in the ring.

Albano's 75th birthday party last year at a Yonkers restaurant turned into a drunken battle royal, with the arrest of one wrestler.

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