On Tuesday, December 3rd, Canadian newspaper The Montreal Gazette reported the Obituary of Jack Westelman, better known to the entertainment world as actor and video game voice over performer, Danny Wells. For gamers Wells most iconic role was as Luigi, Mario’s brother from the 1989 live action/animated series, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
Danny Wells began working as a character actor on Television in the early ‘70s. His lanky looks and grizzled, yet warm, personality landed him roles in mostly sitcoms and detective shows. Wells performed in everything from Love American Style and Columbo, to Kojak and Sanford and Son, and landed one of his most famous reoccurring rolls in 1975, as Charlie the Bartender on The Jeffersons.
When The Jeffersons ended in 1985, Wells continued to work regularly, but never in a continual role, then in 1989 he was cast in the most iconic character of his career. Wells became the first actor to give a voice, and live action look, to Mario’s brother Luigi in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was a syndicated weekday children’s show based on the universe of the historic Super Mario Bros. video games. Each episode featured a live action comedy wrap-around story focused on "Mario Bros. Plumbing" with Mario portrayed by the late actor and wrestler Lou Albano, and Danny Wells as his slender brother Luigi. The comedy bits were vaudeville/sitcom in style, complete with laugh track and sound effects from the video games. These live-action segments served to host the animated shows, which consisted of Super Mario Bros., which was also voiced by Albano and Wells, and The Legend of Zelda.
The show, produced by DIC Entertainment, was designed specifically for a US audience. Since the Mario games didn’t include dialogue until Mario Kart 64, Albano and Wells were the first to introduce us to the Mario Bro’s voices, and the only ones to perform live action versions of the characters, until the disastrous 1993 live action movie.
After the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Wells continued his successful career as a character actor as well as voice over for animated shows. Then in 1999 Wells moved over into video game voice over, starting with the Interplay PC/Mac game Descent 3, and continued to lend his voice to games in Sir-Tech Software’s PC game Wizardry 8, and most recently as Captain Arthur Partridge in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
Wells passed away on Thursday, November 28, 2013 at the age of 72, leaving behind a family of loved ones, and millions of fans.