Mario Segale, the real-life inspiration for Nintendo’s blockbuster ‘Super Mario’ character, has died at the age of 84, according to a Friday report from NPR. Segale never intended to be the namesake for the infamous plumber, NPR reports, he was simply Nintendo’s landlord at the time that the company created Donkey Kong, the precursor to the Mario Brothers’ saga. He reportedly earned the name the day he barged into Nintendo’s Seattle offices demanding payment for late rent, although he was wearing suspenders, not Mario’s trademark overalls.
Outside of his association with the company, Segale kept a private life, focusing on the heavy construction company he started just after graduating high school, which he eventually sold for $60 million in 1998. And although Segale did not seek public recognition for his role in Nintendo’s history, a person who identified themselves as an acquaintance said that he still felt warmly about the association. “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,” the acquaintance said.