* * MIAMI VICE -- "By Hooker By Crook" Episode 20 -- Air Date 03/20/1987 -- Pictured: (l-r) Afa Anoai as Henchman #2, Lou Albano as Henchman #1 (Captain Lou Albano) (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images)
Louis Vincent Albano, better known as Captain Lou Albano to professional wrestling fans around the world, died this morning at age 76 as the result of an undisclosed illness. Albano had been under hospice care in Miami prior to his death.
If you grew up in the 80’s, as I did, you remember Captain Lou for a lot of reasons. First of all, he always wore rubber bands as earrings. I never understood how he got the rubber bands in there to begin with. Albano also played the dad in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video. Oh, Daddy Dear, you know you’re still #1.
I also remember him playing the role of Super Mario in the Super Mario Saturday morning kid’s show (“It’s a me, MARIO!”), and as the evil thug in the truly underrated Brian de Palma movie “Wise Guys” (Best scene: Lou lights a cigar in a gas-filled kitchen, asks who farted, and then get blown sky high).
Albano began his wrestling career as a tag team member of The Sicilians. (“They’ll whack you!”) Eventually, he turned from wrestler to heel manager for the likes of The Magnificent Muraco (also known as The Rock’s dad), Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and more. Dozens of different wrestlers won championship aftr championship under Albano’s guidance, and perhaps the occasional, snuck-into-the-ring handful of blinding talcum powder.
In an industry where sudden early deaths are the norm, it’s quite heartening to see a guy like Captain Lou live a long and fruitful life. To people like me who grew up with him, the mere mention of his name is enough to bring you back to 1984, when the Rock and Wrestling Connection ruled the planet. His was one of those vivid characters you just remember, often for no good reason at all, like a piece of living kitsch (and I don’t mean that as an insult). He will be missed. I’d like to think he’s up in heaven right now, waiting to ambush Abraham Lincoln with a folding chair.
Drew Magary is a co-founder of Kissing Suzy Kolber, a writer for Blue Star and Deadspin, and author of Men With Balls, now in bookstores.