Professional wrestling has lost another of its storied legends with the passing of Captain Lou Albano earlier today at 76. Albano, billed as the "Manager of Champions" in the then-WWWF in the 70's, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, and last appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw 2 years ago.
Albano started his career as a wrestler and won the WWWF tag titles as 1/2 of the Scilians in 1967. However, his fame rose as a manager, guiding 15 teams to tag gold in the 70's & 80's, the last team being the Headshrinkers in 1994. Albano also led Ivan Koloff to the WWWF title in 1971.
In the 80's & 90's, Albano reinvented himself as an actor, appearing in films such as "Wise Guys", "Body Slam", & "Stay Tuned", and the children's TV series, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Of course, during the Golden Age of MTV, Albano was a member of Cyndi Lauper's repertory company, appearing in a number of her videos, including "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" & "She Bop". On WWE (then World Wrestling Federation) programs, Albano would claim to have been a factor in Lauper's early success, but in the course of things went from being a buffoonish villain to beloved fan favorite, which he would remain for the remainder of his time with WWE.
Albano had been in failing health in recent months and had just recently been placed in hospice care. In his last appearance on Raw, Albano cut a rambling promo via videotape on Vince McMahon, who had "killed off" his on-air alter ego for a few weeks as part of a storyline that was abruptly terminated a few weeks later.
Up in the Great Arena in the Sky, Albano has been reunited with the other "Wise Men of the East", Fred Blassie and Ernie "Grand Wizard" Roth. The troika were the heel managers in the WWWF in the 70's, and were just as over as the talent they managed. It would be a major shock if WWE, which has a short notice on their website, didn't honor Albano with a tribute on Monday.
Rest in peace, Lou. You will be missed.