Real-life inspiration behind Nintendo’s 'Mario' dead at 84

Alfred Osborne
November 3, 2018

The man for whom arguably the most iconic character in all of videogaming was named has died, aged 84.

The character of "Super Mario" was originally to be called "Jumpman" before the tenants of Segale Business Park in Tukwila chose to honor their landlord with the moniker, the BBC reported.

Mr Segale was a successful Italian-American property developer from the USA state of Washington.

"What if they'd named our beloved character "Segale" instead?" In one of the most famous anecdotes in the industry, NOA president Minoru Arakawa noticed a striking resemblance between Segale and Jumpman, and thus the latter was christened then and forever as Mario. As Benj Edwards notes in an in-depth 2010 exploration of the tale, though, the "Super" descriptor for the character wouldn't become common until the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1985.

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Up to that point, Nintendo's character had been known as "Jumpman", so we have to say "Mario" was quite the improvement. He ran several construction and real estate companies, and was a multi-faceted businessman. Decades later, he sold M.A. Segale so his family could concentrate on its real estate company, Segale Properties. The company also owns commercial properties in Seattle and agricultural land, including a vineyard, in Eastern Washington.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Donna, his four children, Lisa Atkins (Robert), Mark Segale (Keri), Tina Covey (Todd), Nita Johnson (Brian), and nine grandchildren. Avoiding names like Mr.

According to Segale's obituary, "while he was the inspiration for the name of Nintendo's "Super Mario" from when they were tenants in his business park, he always ducked the notoriety and wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life". 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.

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