The 1980s were a wild decade and nobody personified the awesome '80s like wild-haired professional wrestling personality Captain Lou Albano. Born on this date in 1933, Albano was one of the key figures responsible for the unlikely but meteorite rise of pro wrestling to the pop culture super-prominence that it held for at least a decade and that it's managed to keep very much alive ever since then.
Pro wrestling had long been a staple on TV as a cheaply-produced sports-like commodity airing in individual markets with talent from local promoters. Though he certainly didn't achieve it by himself, the World Wrestling Federation's (now WWE) Vince McMahon was able to propitiously parlay a particularly colorful crop of performers wrestling under his banner plus the perfectly-timed (for him) rise of national cable channels looking for programming into a genuine phenomenon. Captain Lou was an important part of the "Rock n' Wrestling" component of the puzzle, a union wrought from a chance meeting with top rocker Cyndi Lauper and which burgeoned into winning -- by anyone's standards -- partnership.
The former bad-guy wrestling manager Albano became a star consorting with Lauper in her chart-topping music videos and on TV in matches which were aired as spectaculars at the time MTV was still making history with its pop music sensibility. In the mid-1980s even NBC stepped into the ring with its late-night Saturday Night Main Event and USA Network essentially defined itself with its many hours of McMahon-produced wrestling in primetime. Albano was along for the ride and branched out into other TV appearances, co-starring in several motion pictures and starring as the world-famous videogame plumber in 65 episodes of the animated (with live action segments) The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! beginning in 1989.
Albano never abandoned wrestling even after dabbling in other show business endeavors; he was always associated with his character of Captain Lou and was a fan favorite. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 76 after a life-long career of bringing enthusiasm, humor, compassion and solid workmanship to his adoring audiences.
Let's highlight Captain Lou's career with some fun clips from his impressive resume!
An early 1980's wrestling interview with Vince McMahon:
Lou Albano in a ringside interview with legendary wrestling announcer Mean Gene Okerlund:
1983's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" video by Cyndi Lauper co-starring Captain Lou as her father:
In 1985 Cyndi recorded "(The Goonies 'R') Good Enough" for the Steven Spielberg-produced film The Goonies. The long 2-part music video featured Captain Lou and various other wrestlers including Roddy Piper as well as many of the film's actors:
Somehow the WWF got the idea that the wrestlers releasing their own album was a good idea:
This is what "Rock N' Wrestling" was all about:
In 1987 Captain Lou had his own phone hotline:
Captain Lou made a spot for band NRBQ parodying a well-known direct response commercial for a classical music collection that used to run all over late-night TV back then:
In 1987 Captain Lou and Rowdy Roddy Piper tag-teamed on Hollywood Squares:
In 1989 came The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!:
Captain Lou does an anti-drug PSA:
Captain Lou Albano was fondly remembered:
For a full-length look at Captain Lou Albano, circa 1985:
Captain Lou Albano, July 29, 1933 - October 14, 2009