December 9th, 2003 -- Super Mario has gone Hollywood. No, we're not talking about 1993's The Super Mario Bros. movie or even a new sequel in the works (heaven forbid). Nintendo's chubby Italian plumber was recently inducted into the illustrious Hollywood Wax Museum, and TNL was on the scene for the statue's "stage debut."
The wax figure's unveiling ceremony took place at the Hollywood Wax Museum along beautiful downtown Hollywood Boulevard.
To get attendees warmed up for the big event, Nintendo was holding a Mario lookalike contest. Mr. Mario himself greets two of the entrants outside the museum.
Inside the front lobby, Nintendo had a pair of GameCube demo units running Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Party 5. Nintendo Street Team members also had GameBoy Advance SP units on hand to demo Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
Speaking of "Mario Party 5," here's the four Mario lookalike contestants posing in costume alongside their namesake. A show of applause from the crowd determined who placed first, second, third, and last.
The first-place prize was this gift basket of Nintendo games, including a GameCube, a GameBoy Advance SP, and numerous new games for the systems--plus a $500 check! Not bad for putting on some suspenders and a mustache. Runners-up in the contest also got parting gifts.
Nintendo Assistant Manager of Public Relations Tom Harlin presents winner Joseph Rossi with a Super Mario-sized check. Hey, doesn't Mario get paid in gold coins?
We had a chance to have a few words with first-place finisher Joseph Rossi of Redlands, California:
TNL: Congratulations! Joseph Rossi - is that Italian?
Rossi: Yes, I'm half Italian. Mexican-Italian, that is.
TNL: How'd you hear about the Mario contest at the wax museum today?
Rossi: I saw something about it online at Planet GameCube.
TNL: So what drove you to enter this competition? We noticed you had Mario's accent down pat.
Rossi: Ha, well I had the costume already from a performance I did in my high school acting class. So I've had some practice playing Mario before, but it's been awhile.
TNL: What's your favorite video game out right now?
Rossi: Viewtiful Joe for GameCube.
TNL: And how about favorite Mario title of all time?
Rossi: Hmm... (long pause) I'd have to say it's a tie between the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World. But my favorite game of all time period is Super Metroid.
[TNL and Rossi go into an extended sidebar conversation about the virtues of Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and other assorted Super Nintendo classics.]
TNL: So what are you going to do with the prizes? You made out pretty good today.
Rossi: I'll probably play the games, but I already have a GameCube and GameBoy, of course. I guess they might make a good Christmas gift for somebody.
TNL: Thanks a lot and congrats again. Can you do your Mario impression one more time?
Rossi: It's-a-me, Ma-ri-oh!
Then without any further ado, it was finally time for Mario's statue to be unveiled... After Mr. Harlin "waxed poetic" about how Mario had been featured in over 67 video games, which have sold over 170 million units--making him more successful than a lot of the famous movie stars whose figures populate the museum.
It's-a-wax, Mario! The statue looked almost exactly like the mascot himself, just a bit shorter (five feet tall, to be exact). "My fans always said that no one could hold a candle to me," Mario quipped. "Now they'd better not!"
Mario and the lookalikes agree... That's one fine looking hunk 'a wax.
Nintendo touted that "Mario, the first-ever video game icon honored with a wax figure at the museum, replaces statues of Matrix actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the museum's lobby, even while the final installment of their trilogy remains in theaters."
Neo and Trinity didn't look too pleased about that...
Watch out Mario--they're packing heat.
From the Matrix to Mario... And just like that, Mario takes over the primo spot at the front of the museum's entrance.
Say, maybe Mario's not the first-ever video game icon to be waxed after all--isn't that his old buddy Donkey Kong in the background?
The next time you're in Los Angeles, check out Mario at the Hollywood Wax Museum, 6767 Hollywood Boulevard, (323) 462-5991.
· · · Teddman