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Albano was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. As a teenager, Lou did well in football, but failed to impress scouts sufficiently to qualify for a football scholarship. After graduating high school, Albano enlisted in the US Army. Following his military career he got a job as a nightclub bouncer, where soon he was introduced to professional wrestling. He formed a tag team known as the Sicilians, whose gag was dressing in expensive suits and adopting wiseguy personas, but he soon gave up on that image after received harassment from people outside of wrestling, as well as threats from actual mobsters that his act was too akin to the real thing. In 1969, Albano retired from active wrestling to focus solely on management. His record on managing champions is still one of the highest today. In addition to wrestling, Albano also managed singer Cyndi Lauper, and was featured in her music video Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Lou Albano was featured as Frankie the Fixer in the 1986 film Wise Guys and also spoofed his wrestling persona in the 1992 film Stay Tuned with John Ritter. However, his role as Mario was arguably his best known role outside of the WWF. In a 1989 episode of Regis & Kathie Lee, Albano hired a barber to shave off his trademark goatee on the set in order to prepare for the role as Mario. Sometimes Albano, along with his costar Danny Wells, would play other characters in the Mario family, such as Aunt Marianna or Mario Bob. Albano played himself in the live action segment, "Captain Lou is Missing!". In addition to the live action segments, Albano also voiced the animated cartoon version of Mario.
In 1995, he was inducted into the WWF/E Hall of Fame.
Albano passed away on October 14, 2009 and he was mourned by many Mario fans.