Forrest Czarnecki | For The Coloradoan

Nintendo's Real Life Inspiration For Super Mario Has Passed At 84

November 4, 2018

Mario Segale, the man who was the real life inspiration behind one of the most famous pop culture icons Super Mario, has passed away at the age of 84.

Segale was the son of first-generation Italian immigrant farmers and founded M.A. Segale, a heavy construction general contractor in the northwestern US.  He would later sell M.A. Segale and concentrate more on his budding real estate company.   

Apparently as the story goes, Segale rented a warehouse that would become Nintendo’s US headquarters.  Nintendo was struggling financially and was preparing to launch “Donkey Kong” in the U.S. .  It was around this time that Minoru Arakawa, the president of Nintendo of America, began to see physical similarities between the plumber protagonist and Segale and started calling him “Mario.”

“Nintendo of America is sad to hear of Mr. Segale’s passing, and we extend our sympathies to his family and friends,” Nintendo said in a statement to Variety.

But according to his obituary, Segale was never too keen on being the muse for the famous plumber.  “While he was the inspiration for the name of Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario’ from when they were tenants 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,” it said.

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