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Mario Segale, real estate mogul and namesake of Nintendo's iconic plumber, dies at 85

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Nov 2, 2018, 4:14 PM EDT (Updated)

Mario Segale, the Italian-American real estate mogul and businessman who inspired the name for Nintendo's most recognizable mascot, has passed away at the age of 85, NPR reports.

“Nintendo of America is sad to hear of Mr. Segale’s passing, and we extend our sympathies to his family and friends," said the gaming company in an official statement provided to SYFY WIRE. 

Segale apparently owned the Tukwila-based warehouse outside of Seattle, Washington, where Nintendo had rented some office space. It was during this time that the company was developing Donkey Kong, the classic title that introduced Mario (originally known as "Jumpman") to the world of video games. As the story goes, Segale once stormed into the warehouse sometime in the early '80s, angrily asking for overdue rent money.

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Based on intel obtained by Benj Edwards in 2010, Segale wasn't very tall and wore suspenders, two things that mirror the final design of the Koopa-crushing plumber. Despite Mario's love of overalls, the straps keeping them up are almost like suspenders.

While not recounting this exact tale, the creator of Super MarioShigeru Miyamoto, confirmed the character is named after Segale with the simple nod of his head in a 2015 video published by Nintendo UK.

The news of Segale's passing was originally reported on by his local news outlet, the Kent, Washington-based Auburn Reporter. He died on Saturday, Oct. 27, surrounded by loved ones, although the cause of death was not made public.

Even though he served as the inspiration for one of the most beloved video game characters of all time, Segale was not a fan of fame and actively avoided the press and his own noteriety. 

“He never wanted to have the spotlight, and I always understood that. He was always extremely kind to so many people,” said former Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis said. “If you were in that group that he talked to, he was the nicest individual you would ever want to meet."

It's good to know that the man behind the princess-rescuer was every bit as caring and humble in real life.