Mario was first referred to as "Jumpman". From the Mario wikipedia page:
The character first appeared in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong as a carpenter named "Jumpman", more commonly called "Mr. Video Game" in Japan. During localization of the game for American audiences, Nintendo's warehouse landlord Mario Segale confronted Nintendo's Minoru Arakawa, demanding back rent. Following a heated argument in which the Nintendo employees eventually convinced Segale he would be paid, they opted to name the character in the game Mario after him.
Mama Mia! You pay-a the rent! Jumpman went on to be the most well-known character in video game history. My original Mario post still seems to get a lot of hits, so you might be seeing him popping up here and there this month.