'Sabado Gigante': Why Don Francisco’s Spanish-language show matters
- TV Show
Settling down on a Saturday night to watch Sábado Gigante—which, translated, means “Giant Saturday”—is a time-honored tradition in millions of households across the Spanish-speaking world. (When asked, most Latino millennials would definitely admit to having watched an episode or… two hundred.) Hosted by Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco, the three-hour show was known for its jam-packed segments, the likes of which put U.S. variety shows to shame.
With bikini-clad beauty pageants, melodramatic family reunions, musical acts, slapstick comedy sketches, kids’ contests, over-the-top games, giveaways, celebrity interviews, and the occasional hard news segment sandwiched between The Price Is Right-style product placements (hosted by a rotating cast of miniskirt-clad models), the Miami-based show made its mark on Spanish-language TV while permeating mainstream media with its increasingly influential Hispanic viewership. With Univision’s announcement Friday that the series will wrap in September after an astonishing 53 years on television, here’s a look at how it all started.
Don Francisco—the son of German Jews who immigrated to Chile to avoid Nazi persecution—launched his show on a local channel in his native Chile in 1962.
You’ll be missed, Don Francisco.