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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swing your arms in honor of 'Captain' Lou Albano

Former pro wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano died yesterday of natural causes, according to the Associated Press. A member of the World Wrestling Federation during its early 80s heyday, Albano brought the sport new levels of popularity when he was featured in Cyndi Lauper's video for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Plus, he was Mario.

From 1989-90, Albano hammed it up on the super-cheesy, super-low budget, super-awesome "Super Mario Bros. Super Show." A mass of red overalls and hair, he absolutely owned the role, so much so that in 1993 I was outraged when Bob Hoskins took up the plunger in the big-screen version of the video game.

Half live-action, half cartoon, the show only ran for a handful of episodes, but is remembered fondly to this day, as a number of DVD releases can attest. Ask any male of a certain age to "Do the Mario," and even money he'll launch right into the show's closing number, sung to the tune of the original "Super Mario Bros." theme. (He might even do the dance, since its simple half-twist, two-step moves are one of the few dances every man can do.)

Joined by Danny Wells as Mario's less heroic brother (and basically serving as the Norton to his Ralph), Albano seemed to revel in a role that, frankly, was all sorts of silly. Cavorting with "special" guest stars like Norman Fell (Mr. Roper!), Clare Carey (Kelly from "Coach"!) and Brian Bonsall (the kid who ruined "Family Ties"!), and even dressing in drag for numerous appearances as the brothers' mama, Mariana, Albano barreled through it like a pro.

And boy, could he dance.

-- Adam Reinhard,

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