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Wrestler, Pop Icon Captain Lou Albano Dies At 76

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Wrestler, Pop Icon Captain Lou Albano Dies At 76

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Pro wrestling star and 1980's pop culture icon Captain Lou Albano died Wednesday at age 76. 

Albano, whose real name was Louis Vincent Albano, died in Westchester County in suburban New York, said Dawn Marie, founder of Wrestlers Rescue, an organization that helps raise money for the health care of retired wrestlers. He died of natural causes, Marie said

The WWE issued a statement regarding Albano's death on Wednesday, acknowledging his impact on the pro wrestling industry during his career, reports CBS station WCBS-TV in New York City.

"World Wrestling Entertainment was saddened to learn of the passing of one of the company's most popular and charismatic legends, 'Captain Lou Albano.' WWE extends its deepest condolences to the Albano family. "Captain Lou" was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. He performed for the WWE from 1983 to 1996. Albano began his storied career with Vincent J. McMahon in the 1960's as one half of "The Sicilians" tag team with his partner Tony Altimore. He will be greatly missed by the WWE and his fans."

With his trademark Hawaiian shirts, wiry goatee and rubber bands hung like piercings from his cheek, Albano was an outsize personality who, in a career spanning nearly five decades, was known as much for his showmanship as for his talent in the ring.

His fame skyrocketed when he appeared in Lauper's landmark 1983 music video, playing a scruffy, overbearing father in a white tank top who gets shoved against a wall by the singer.

Partly because of the success of Albano's partnership with Lauper, the entity then known as the World Wrestling Federation forged ties with the music industry. That helped bring it to a wider national audience in the mid-1980s, known as the "Rock n' Wrestling" era.

It was a time when wrestlers such as Albano, Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Andre the Giant were so popular that they could headline a television cartoon series and appear in movies.

Albano later had a role in the music video for Lauper's 1984 song "Time After Time," and he appeared in episodes of the TV series "Miami Vice" and in the 1986 movie "Body Slam." He played Mario in "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show," a live-action animated show, from 1989 to 1991.

His career in the ring began in 1953 in Canada, and he went on to form the "The Sicilians" tag team with Tony Altimore. They were known for wearing fedoras and talking about the Mafia in interviews, according to the book "WWE Legends" by Brian Solomon.

Albano also coached popular tag teams such as The Wild Samoans, The Executioners and The Moondogs. He retired from the WWE in 1996.

Albano was born on July 29, 1933, in Rome. After moving to the U.S., the family settled in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Survivors include his wife, Geri, four children and 14 grandchildren.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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