Mario Segale, Inspiration For Nintendo's Hero Plumber, Has Died

Jumpman circa 1981 before the Segale-inspired renaming to

Segale owned the business park housing Nintendo's American arcade operation in the early '80s, when the company was busy converting thousands of disused Radarscope cabinets to play Donkey Kong.

The Super Mario character has become one of the most recognized characters in the world and it went on to become a franchise. That changed when Segale stormed into Nintendo's offices demanding back rent, according to NPR.

Creator Shigeru Miyamoto was looking for a proper name for the character, as well as his girlfriend 'Lady, ' and chose to name him Mario after the businessman.

Nintendo wanted real names for the characters that were more marketable and drew inspiration from real life people.

Mario Arnold Segale passed away while surrounded by his family on Saturday in Seattle.


While looking for Jumpman's name, they turned to Segale.

It was coincidence that linked him to Super Mario, and Segale preferred to view it as nothing more - even after the company that rented warehouse space from him later adopted the Super Mario character as its mascot. A 1993 Seattle Times article quotes him as joking, "You might say I'm still waiting for my royalty checks", seemingly the only on-the-record comment on his ancillary role in Nintendo's history.

Segale leaves behind his wife of 62 years, Donna, four children and nine grandchildren.

His obituary reads, "While he was the inspiration for the name of Nintendo's "Super Mario" from when [Nintendo was a tenant] in his business park in the 1970's, he always ducked the notoriety and wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life". The son of first-generation Italian immigrant farmers, he was the founder of M.A. Segale, a heavy construction general contractor in the northwestern US.

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