Mario Segale, the US man who inspired the name of Nintendo‘s most beloved and enduring character, has passed away at the age of 84, surrounded by his family and loved ones.
Segale, a real estate developer, was the owner of an office park outside Seattle, and Nintendo leased office space there in the 1970s, when they were still trying to break into the American market.
The company was experiencing financial difficulties at the time, and legend has it that one day, a fed-up Segale burst into the office demanding they pay their rent.
Nintendo was preparing to launch Donkey Kong, and staff were struck by the similarities between the game’s protagonist Jumpman and their short but extremely feisty landlord.
They decided to change the main character’s name to Mario instead, and the rest was history.
Mario Segale, the namesake of Nintendo’s Mario character, dies at age 85https://t.co/vgFVwlfMYp
This is the first labeled photo of him as an adult on the Internet pic.twitter.com/fm4Do6tikY
— Benj Edwards (@benjedwards) November 1, 2018
According to his obituary, Mario Segale was the only child of Italian immigrant farmers in the state of Washington, and “with sheer determination and unbelievable self-taught business acumen, created a remarkable legacy.”
Family and friends say that he “always ducked the notoriety” of the famous video game character he helped inspire, and “wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life”, particularly his success in the commercial real-estate market.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, as well as four children and nine grandchildren. R.I.P.