'The real life Super Mario' dies surrounded by family at the age of 84
There's one character out there who's practically synonymous with video gaming. Moreso than Pac-Mac, Sonic the Hedgehog or Lara Croft, Super Mario is gaming's unofficial mascot, and even today his titles are true masterpieces; regularly getting the same rave reviews as Super Mario Bros for the NES did way back in 1985. For over thirty years, the portly Italian plumber has been smashing blocks, chomping mushroom, leaping over barrels and stomping on Bowser. I mean, seriously: how often has Princess Peach been kidnapped now? That woman goes missing more regularly than my car keys.
However, what you might not have known is that Mario was actually based on a real person - a man who recently died at the ripe old age of 84. Mario Segale was an Italian-American real estate developer and businessman, who at one point was the landlord for Nintendo of America's offices in Seattle, Washington state.
After the developer visited the developers one day and demanded the payment of late rent (only being assuaged by Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa), the company decided to rename the character of 'Jumpman' Mario as part of their US release of the Donkey Kong arcade game. The game, which was developed by the legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto, was released in 1981 and went on to become a smash success - followed up by the revolutionary Super Mario Bros four years later.
The businessman kept his distance from the cartoonish gaming character, and in a 2010 profile on Segale, an associate close to the real estate developer stated: "From my understanding, Mario wants nothing to do with being related to the 'Super Mario' character in fear it might interfere with his business, financial, political and private relationships … Obviously, from his standpoint, it wouldn’t benefit him and could possibly publicize him." However, he did joke that he was "still waiting on royalty cheques" from Nintendo as a result of their usage of his name. Indeed, he was never given any financial payment from the corporation, although he managed to amass a considerable fortune in his own lifetime.
The son of two first-generation Italian immigrants, Segale died on October 27, 2018, leaving behind his spouse Donna (whom he married in 1957), his four children, Lisa, Mark, Tina and Nita, and nine grandchildren.
Segale's obituary states: "Although he took little time away from work, Mario loved hunting, fishing, his airplane, a good joke, the colour red, great Italian food (with no cheese!), an excellent cigar and his view of Puget Sound. His passion was figuring out how to do things in new and better ways, which often included drawing things on the backs of napkins and placemats."
It adds: "The innovations he brought to the construction industry that are still seen today attest to his remarkable creativity ... For generations of his family to come, and for the people who had a chance to know him well, his impact will remain ever-present."
Rest in peace Mr Segale. You will surely be missed.