Danny Wells has returned to the great Warp Pipe in the sky. Wells, who played Luigi on the animated adaptation of Super Mario Bros., passed away last week in his native Toronto. He was 72.
For an entire generation of children, Wells was the Luigi—miles ahead of John Leguizamo’s interpretation in the 1993 film—thanks to his live-action appearances between animated segments. Eschewing the later gritty live-action update in Super Mario Brothers, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show! instead featured Wells in Luigi’s trademark green overalls, sporting a waxed-up stache and always fiending for his next meal. This, after all, is the essence of Luigi’s character, and Wells nailed perfectly.
The red half of the Super Mario Bros., Lou Albano (yes, that Lou Albano), passed away in 2009 at the age of 76. Written as Luigi’s slightly older fraternal twin brother, Albano’s Mario served as a boisterous foil to Wells’ downplayed Luigi. They were, in effect, the original Jay and Silent Bob.
Outside of the 1989 series for which he was known, Wells, real name Jack Westelman, also appeared as Charlie the Bartender on The Jeffersons, and nabbed film roles in the early 2000s in Magnolia, The Last Kiss, and Swindle.
But, as with all video games, losing a life doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the adventure. Perhaps his princess was just in another castle.