'Sabado Gigante' celebrates 50th year

Oct. 27, 2012 at 6:36 PM
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MIAMI, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Mario Kreutzberger, better known to TV viewers as Don Francisco, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his show "Sabado Gigante" Saturday in Miami.

During the past half-century, the variety show and its master of ceremonies have become an institution in Latin America and among Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported. The show also attracts non-Hispanic guests, including Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is well-enough known that Stephen Colbert has parodied it as "Colberto Reporto Gigante."

"'Sabado Gigante' is its own unique thing," said Chon Noriega, head of the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. "It's that little-bit-of-everything approach -- the scantily clad girls, the circus acts. ... When you come across it, you'd be surprised at how long you sit there watching it. I don't think some people would like to admit it or feel comfortable being entertained by it because it is sort of the lowest common denominator approach to entertainment."

The anniversary special, which was taped Wednesday, runs 4 hours, an hour longer than usual.

Kreutzberger, 71, was born in Chile. He discovered U.S. television during a brief period in New York as a student of fashion design and returned to Santiago to start his own show.

He married the same year, so he is celebrating two 50th anniversaries.

Kreutzberger's longevity has earned him a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records."

"This is one of those feats that we will never see again in television history -- never," said Cesar Conde, president of the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

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