Legendary WWE wrestler dies
Carmel, N.Y.'s 'Captain' Lou Albano remembered as a cordial storyteller
By Melissa Bruen
Updated: 10/15/2009 12:01:46 AM EDT
CARMEL, N.Y. -- Lou Albano might be known nationally as "Captain," but in Carmel, where he spent his later years, he was an ordinary, friendly guy.
Albano, a World Wrestling Entertainment legend, died in his Carmel home early Wednesday after a long illness.
"He was very cordial, used to tell jokes, stories about the early days of wrestling with Bruno Sammartino and all the pioneers of wresting -- it was very different from today," said Domenic Chiera, a manager at the Southeast Grill House on Route 6 in Brewster.
Chiera said Albano frequented a number of local restaurants and other than the reputation that preceded him, he was a regular man, easy to talk to.
When people from out of the area approached him publicly and asked for his autograph, he always took the time to acknowledge them and give them a little something, especially if they had children with them.
"He'd always have something for kids in the car, photos he'd sign for them or action dolls he'd give them -- he was a very nice guy," Chiera said.
Albano began his wrestling career in Canada in 1953, before coming to the U.S. and World Wide Wrestling Federation in the 1960s, according to WWE.
He teamed up with Tony Altimore, and together won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship in 1967.
After he retired from wresting, he became a manager and earned the nickname "The Guiding Light" as he managed 15 teams to the World Tag Team Championship in 20 years, according to WWE. That is a record that has not yet been broken.
In 1983, he appeared in Cyndi Lauper's music video for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
WWE gives Albano and Hulk Hogan credit for launching wresting into a legendary era in the mid-1980s, known as "Rock n' Wrestling."
After he stepped back from the business entirely, Albano maintained on screen career, first in a few episodes of "Miami Vice" and then on the big screen starring in the film "Body Slam" in 1987, according to WWE.
He later managed and performed with rock group NRBQ, who wrote the song "Captain Lou" in his honor, and he starred in "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show," a hybrid live-action/animated show, where he played Mario and voiced his cartoon counterpart, WWE reports.
Visiting hours will be held Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Balsamo-Cordovano Funeral Home, located at 15 Church Street, Carmel. A funeral Mass will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. James the Apostle Church, located at 14 Gleneida Ave., Carmel.
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