A Gem from the Past: Who inspired the name and look of Mario?


Who was that Mustachioed man?

Ever wondered about who inspired famed Nintendo Game Designer, Shigeru Miyamoto to create the looks of the Italian Plumber we loved? In a special feature, we’ll be going over the Man behind the Mustache, Mario Segale.

As the story goes, Mr. Segale was a wealthy real-estate agent that was based in Tukwila, Washington, and one day during the early 1980s Nintendo of America was preparing to launch Donkey Kong in the United States and at the time NOA was facing Financial trouble, the Warehouse they rented was owned by Segale. Legend has it that he stormed into their office and demanded the tenants to pay their rent, Then it dawned on Shigeru Miyamoto and the Nintendo staff that they found their mustachioed man! A close associate at that time confirmed that Mr. Segale wasn’t very tall but he wore suspenders but not overalls.

Credit: The Economist

“While he was the inspiration for the name of Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario’ from when they were tenants in his business park in the 1970s, he always ducked the notoriety and wanted to be known instead for what he accomplished in his life.”

The Segale Obituary
Credit: Technologizer
Be sure to check out their article about Mario too! -RED

Another friend of Mr. Segale’s commented on the story from Technologizer; “My direct understanding and perception are 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.


It would go on that Mr. Segale preferred to view it as a coincidence, nothing more. An article from The Seattle Times had a quote from Mr. Segale said in 1993 “You might say I’m still waiting for my royalty checks.” The Story goes that Shigeru Miyamoto had the characters ready for Donkey Kong but needed names, at the time before discovering Mario Segale the Lead Character’s names just ‘Jumpman’ (which most likely if left at being named Jumpman it wouldn’t have been a big hit and would probably lead to Nintendo of America’s demise. ~Red) “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.

From then on, the character Mario went on to make history as a Franchise Juggernaut, making appearances in games that required saving the mushroom kingdom and kart racing and sports. While Mario Segale went on keeping a low profile, rarely speaking to media up until passing away at age 84 on October 27th, 2018.

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