The TV show Sabado Gigante has been a staple of Spanish-speaking households for 50 years. Larger-than-life host Don Francisco talks with host Maria Hinojosa about his first TV experience, his recipe for success, and transcontinental commuting.
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Mario Kreutzberger, better known as “Don Francisco,” is the creator and host of “Sábado Gigante” (Giant Saturday), the longest running variety show in television history –celebrating its 50th anniversary this year– and one of the most successful programs ever aired on Spanish-language TV. Born in Chile, the son of German Jewish immigrants who escaped their country during the turbulent times preceding World War II, Kreutzberger is a distinguished TV presenter and producer, entrepreneur, composer and author who has been involved in virtually every aspect of the entertainment industry for five decades. His fascination with television dates back to the early 1960s, when he pursued an opportunity to work in Chile’s fledgling broadcasting industry. His debut program, titled “Show Dominical” (Sunday Show), aired with limited success and was cancelled twice. On the third attempt, Kreutzberger added a number of new elements, called it “Sábado Gigante,” and began hosting it under the stage name “Don Francisco.” And so, on August 8, 1962, he launched the show that would make television history.