In the history of fictional characters, there are few who have made their mark like Mario. An Italian plumber from New York who became the face of Nintendo started with a variety of names, all based on who you talked to. His creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, originally called the character “Mr. Video” and planned to use him in every game he designed. In the US instruction booklet for Donkey Kong, Nintendo called him “Jumpman”, but in press releases, his name was Mario (how he got that name is a whole story for another day).
Whatever you called him, the mustachioed monkey masher was a hit right off the bat. Two years later, the world would hear him speak for the first time.
Donkey Kong Cartoon (1982)
As they did with everything back in the 80s, once the Donkey Kong game was a certifiable smash hit, the characters were plastered on everything that existed. From cereals (we’ll get to that in a moment) to toys to the always loved Saturday morning cartoons. In this case, Mario was voiced by none other than Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen!
Donkey Kong Cereal (1984)
The next time we heard the world’s most famous plumber, it was in the service of selling sugary morning food that, in theory, was part of a balanced breakfast. In this case, the voice was provided by Larry Moran. It would be five more years before Mario spoke again.
Super Mario Bros. Super Show (1989)
Coming to the world in live action for the first time, Mario was played by everyone’s favorite rubberband wearing wrestler, Captain Lou Albano! The series ran for just 65 episodes, but its legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of all us 80s/90s kids.
Super Mario Bros. 3/Super Mario World (1990/1991)
With no more Captain Lou, you may wonder why anyone would want to make more Mario cartoons. The answer is simple – money. Super Mario Bros. 3 ran for 26 episodes before being replaced with Super Mario World, which lasted just 13 episodes. For these two less than stellar toons, Walker Boone lent his voice to Mario.
Mario Teaches Typing (1992)
The first time Mario ever spoke in a game was… well it was terrible. Along with the not great game, voice actor Ronald B. Ruben seems to put a little bit of a Russian twist into the Italian character’s voice.
Mario is Missing (PC) (1992)
Mario took a backseat for the second game that featured his voice, letting his younger, taller brother Luigi handle the action this time. Now voiced by Nicholas Glaeser, Mario still has a bit of a Russian vibe to his voice. Weird.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
A movie so bad, Nintendo is still super uneasy with the idea of taking their IPs to the big screen. With an amazing cast that included John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hopper as Koopa, Samantha Mathis as Daisy, and the amazing Bob Hoskins as Mario (a role he openly hated), this movie somehow took everything that people liked about the Super Mario games and twisted it into a freakish film that is as boring as it is weird (no easy feat to pull off there!).
Mario’s Game Gallery (1995)
Fourteen years after he was introduced to the world, Mario gained his iconic voice. Mario’s Game Gallery marked the first time Charles Martinet would voice the character, and he’s been doing it ever since, covering over 70 games and one “Got Milk?” commercial. With Mario’s popularity as high as ever, chances are Martinet will be voicing the game hero for years to come.
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