Mario Segale Has Passed Away at 84

The man whose name was the inspiration for a certain mustachioed plumber.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 11/03/2018 21:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Nintendo’s early days as a video game manufacturer are littered with colorful stories, but one of the more interesting ones involves the landlord of a Nintendo of America warehouse back in the early ’80s. Mario Segale was that landlord. A businessman in the greater Seattle, Washington area, Segale was immortalized by Nintendo when the company opted to use his name for the lead of its then-upcoming follow-up to the Donkey Kong arcade game.

While that alone is fairly fascinating, perhaps even more so was the reason why Nintendo chose to use Segale’s name in the first place. Chronicled in the book Game Over by David Sheff back in 1993, the decision apparently came after a very… colorful visit by Segale to the warehouse he was renting to NoA. Then-NoA president Minoru Arakawa was on the receiving end of a particularly energetic conversation with Segale, who was not pleased by the fact that Nintendo was late paying their rent for that month.

Mario Segale

Once Segale left, the localization team at Nintendo felt inspired to rename the character Jump Man, the lead of Donkey Kong, Mario, instead. The rest, as they say, is history. Segale tended not to speak much to the media despite being a major presence in Seattle, but it’s known that the businessman was aware of the memorialization of his name by Nintendo. Apparently, he dryly told The Seattle Times back when Sheff’s book hit stands that “You might say I’m still waiting for my royalty checks.”

It was reported by that same paper that Segale recently passed away on October 27 surrounded by friends and family in a Tukwila, Washington hospital. He was 84. No reason was specified for his passing. His family noted Segale’s ties to the history of Super Mario in his obituary, but went on to say that Segale “always ducked the notoriety and wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life.”

Source: The Seattle Times

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