Easily one of the most dynamic managers of the 70s and 80s, Albano managed over 15 wrestlers to championship reigns, including the Wild Samoans, Ivan Koloff, Greg Valentine and Jimmy Snuka. However, it wasn’t until he helped form the Rock and Wrestling Connection with recording artist Cyndi Lauper in the mid-80s that he achieved the mega-star status that eluded him through his early professional career as a wrestler and manager.
Helping to bridge the gap between professional wrestling and the entertainment industry, Albano was a catalyst in the resurgence in the sport and it’s rise in popularity. Able to play a heel or a face, Albano played a part in some of the best storylines of the ’80s, due to the fact that he was so convincing as a good guy and so diabolical as a baddie. This element alone was what kept him in the wrestling game for over 40 years.
After spending time in the army and as a bouncer, Albano became infatuated with the industry and achieved moderate success as a tag team wrestler. Tagging with Tony Alitmore, Albano won the WWWF United States tag team championships as a member of “The Sicilians.” Born in Rome, it was a perfect fit for Albano, who had no problem acting like a mafioso in interviews and in the ring. Ironically, the team caught the attention of the real-life mafioso’s of New York City.
However, Albano’s real rise to glory started after taking advice from legend Bruno Sammartino and became a commentator and later a manager after his wrestling career wrapped up. Using his boisterous voice and loud clothing, he became a pop-culture icon, even dabbling in music. He later furthered his status outside of the wrestling industry by starring as Mario in the “Super Mario. Bros Super Show.” Although Albano was far from an accomplished performer on television, the charisma he had in the ring translated onto the small screen, resulting in a one of a kind kids show that garnered cult status and later a DVD release. He also appeared on other television shows such as “Hollywood Squares” and “Miami Vice.”
Towards the end of his career, he even co-wrote “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro-Wrestling,” and his autobiography, “Often Imitated, Never Duplicated.”
During this entire process, Albano never forgot where he came from and was always available to the WWE for some comebacks and reunions. Because of that, he’ll always be hailed as an ambassador of the sport.