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Sábado Gigante dice Adiós

Miami, Florida— “¿Que dice el público?– ¡Fuera, Fuera!” and “¡a los leones! Were a few of the iconic words you would hear every Saturday from your TV screen from Mario Kreutzberger, 74, better known as Don Francisco. You remember, there never was a night where your abuela or mamá would miss a single episode and would tell you “Sientate, y mira la television,” even though you did not understand what the show was about and you wanted to watch “caricaturas.” But as the show unfolded, you finally realized why your mom and grandma were so hooked on this so-called Sábado Gigante, you realized you were laughing at the silly skits with “La Cuatro” (Chilean singer and actress Gloria Benavides) and her longing love for Don Francisco— although she was clumsy and gave the celebrities and audience a hard time, she was determined to find herself a man.

Nevertheless, Sábado Gigante was not always named that; it started off as Show Dominical and could be seen in Chile’s, Canal 13 on Sunday’s for a year (1962-1963).  After that year, the show was moved to Saturday’s taking the name, Sábados Gigantes were Kreutzberger and his co-host Pedro De Pool would intertwine all the topics he’s seen from different TV shows into one, because that’s what he wanted to do. He wanted his audience to enjoy everything in his three-hour show, like; comedy skits, talent contests, family reunions, celebrity interviews and so much more. Due to that, it quickly became a hit and started to acquire a big following, not only in Chile, but in all Latin America.

Of course his program was live, which made it that much more unique, but he would also travel around the world where he would introduce a certain locations’ culture and therefore, show how important knowledge and education is. Don Francisco had it all! And USA wanted him! It wasn’t long when Mario and his crew moved to the glamorous and humid city of Miami, Florida where Univision took over and made him a permanent household name every Saturday. Once there, the show’s name changed again into Sábado Gigante and history was on its way.

As the years went by the Spanish-speaking TV show gained popularity in the U.S, but in 1991, known co-host since 1986, Pedro De Pool parted ways and let Javier Romero into his position until this date. Don Francisco also started being the host of Teletón USA in 2012 where people would call in and donate money to sick, special needs and disabled children in Latin communities from the USA. Mario Kreutzberger was always lending a hand to those in need no matter where you came from and because of his self-less personality everyone loved him. He was the male Oprah of the Latino households. He even holds a record in Guinness World Records for longest-running variety show– Sábado Gigante, has been on TV for 53 seasons, making it 2,400 plus episodes without a single re-run, imagine that!

Kreutzberger never imagined the show would make such an impact on people, but thanks to his intelligence and go-getter personality he changed a million lives. His Jewish parents fled Germany during the Nazi horror and eventually welcomed a baby boy on December 28, 1940 in Talca, Chile and he was determined to change the world in a positive way. It was a shock when news and headlines announced that Sábado Gigante was coming to an end. People could not believe it, because generations of Latinos grew up with this show, it became the three-hour show where international families gathered around and laughed and cried together, it was a form of bonding letting go of all the negativity. And now, after 53 seasons Sábado Gigante says goodbye with their final episode airing today. It will be a sad Saturday night, but the memories and episodes will last forever. ¡Muchas gracias Don Francisco!

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Jazmin Bolanos

Jazmin graduated from CSUF with a degree in broadcast journalism. She is of Mexican & Honduran descent where she got her gift and love of dancing. Jazmin is a proud Latina who loves to communicate to people through the art of journalism. "Empower others; Become successful together" Instagram: @Jaz_M.U.S.E

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