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Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009), often referred to as Captain Lou Albano, was an ex pro-wrestler who portrayed Mario in the live action segments of the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! as well as voicing him in the cartoon segments. He worked alongside Danny Wells, who portrayed Luigi. He also appeared as a character in the show. In 2009, he died of a heart attack at the age of 76.
Albano was born in Rome, Italy in 1933. His family emigrated to the United States shortly after his birth. As a teenager, Lou played football in high school, and joined the US Army after graduating. When his military career was over, he took a job as a nightclub bouncer, and was then introduced to professional wrestling. He started working in a tag team called the Sicilians. People started throwing rocks and snowballs at him and he thought, "This is ridiculous, I'm gonna get myself killed." Another problem was that Albano was facing harassment from Mafia members who demanded the Sicilians be dissolved on account of that gig being too much like actual Mafioso. So he became a good guy or (as they call in wrestling) a babyface, he ended up breaking his back twice. So he decided to stop wrestling and work as a manager and he managed The Headshrinkers, Andre the Giant and he even appeared as the father figure in Cyndi Lauper's music video, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
The role of Mario was arguably his best known role outside of wrestling. Albano was a guest on a 1989 episode of Regis and Kathie Lee, whereupon he announced his new role. Albano also hired a barber to come on set and shave off his trademark goatee in order to give him a more Mario-like appearance.
Albano passed away in 2009, twenty years after his Mario debut, after having been under a long period of hospice care.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
Albano appeared as himself in the live-action segment "Captain Lou Is Missing". In the segment, Cyndi Lauper announced that Albano had gone missing when she had planned to go on a picnic lunch with him, and instead found rubber bands for his beard and a note that read "Dear Cyndi, I'm sorry that I'm not here but I've gone for good".
Cyndi formed a search party with Mario and Luigi at Mario Brothers Plumbing along with several volunteers and search teams stationed around the world, which ultimately failed. When Mario went out to pick some pizza, Albano showed up and met Luigi. When Cyndi asked him why he said he left, Albano saw his note and explained that part of it had been cut off; the note should've read "Dear Cyndi, I'm sorry that I'm not here, but I've gone for good fried chicken. Back in an hour.". Albano then explained that he had gotten tired of waiting for Cyndi to arrive at his house afterwards, so he went out, saw fliers about his disappearance, and followed them all the way to Mario Brothers Plumbing.
Cyndi introduced Albano to Luigi, who was thrilled to meet him, although Luigi would've been happier if Mario had been there to meet him as well. When Albano and Cyndi left, Luigi figured that Mario was going to be very disappointed for not getting to meet him, as he claimed Mario was Albano's biggest fan.
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3
Although Albano never made an appearance in the Mario series beyond The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, he, along with several other famous people of Italian descent did receive a mention from the Gondolier during The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "The Venice Menace".