Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rant #111: Capt. Lou Goes Down For the Count

Capt. Lou Albano died yesterday. He wasn’t really a captain, but if you watched professional wrestling in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, you knew who Albano was—whether you liked him or not.

Albano was one of the most successful wrestling managers during this time period, managing everyone from Toru Tanaka to the Samoans. He was mainly a “bad” guy, and he knew how to get the audiences riled up with his totally rude behavior.

His look added to this illusion. Albano, with his pot belly sticking out of his Hawaiian shirt, with rubber bands sticking out of his hairy face and a head topped with unruly hair, well, he was a sight for the ages.

Albano was actually a pretty good athlete in his day, and a fair wrestler. But he really rose to the occasion as a wrestling manager, the guy who accompanies his charges to the ring, occasionally getting involved in the bout, and the guy who yelled as much as his attractions in the interviews that were used between matches to spike interest.

Although 95 percent of his career was spent as a bad guy, his last days with WWF—now WWE, and prior to all this, WWF and even earlier, WWWF—were spent as a good guy. He was paired with singer Cyndi Lauper in the 1990s melding of rock and roll and wrestling, which was incredibly successful, and helped to bring professional wrestling to the mainstream.

He was in several of Lauper’s videos—including a memorable one as her father in “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”—and he became something of a ubiquitous personality all over TV. Nobody would claim that Albano was an A-list star, but he was always in character, no matter what he did.

At 76, Albano lived a very full life.

And his passing once again signaled that another icon from my youth is gone.

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