Mario Segale, namesake for Nintendo’s mascot, dies at 84

Ruben Fields
November 4, 2018

The Italian-American property developer from Washington leased a warehouse to Nintendo of America in the 1970s and they chose to name the main character of their new video after him.

Mr Segale shunned all publicity and involvement with Nintendo fearing that any association with Mario could damage the reputation of his business. Miyamoto also mistakenly suggested Segale "had a striking resemblance to the character that we had designed in Japan for the game", showing how much the story can become mangled with the passage of time even among some of the game's principal players. According to the article, Segale was originally the landlord of the building that Nintendo operated out of way back in the day, and that, allegedly, Nintendo was oftentimes late with the rent.

However, according to his family, Segale was never looking to cash in on that.

Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto as the playable character in Donkey Kong.

Another friend of Segale's commented on that story: "My direct understanding and perception is that Mario Segale doesn't mind at all the fact that his name inspired such an iconic character, and that he shows humble pride in that fact in front of his grandchildren and close-knit adult circles".

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Nintendo wanted proper names for the characters, so they named the hero after their landlord and the lady Pauline after a Nintendo of America employee's wife.

Mr Segale joked to the Seattle Times in 1993 that he was "still waiting for my royalty cheques".

Segale kept a very low profile, only rarely speaking to the media.

He was born in Seattle to first-generation Italian immigrant farmers Louis and Rina.

Segale started his own construction company with just a single dump truck in the early 1950s, before marrying his wife, Donna, in 1957.

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