Latinos in the United States are losing a cultural icon. Sábado Gigante, the wild and wacky Univision variety show that has endured for more than 53 years, will end in September (link in Spanish).
Mario Kreutzberger, who has hosted the show from its beginning, decided it was time to take the show off the air, according to someone familiar with the network’s move. Kreutzberger, better known by his stage name Don Francisco, is 74 years old.
Known for its singing, dancing, kooky games, animal tricks, and nearly naked women, Sábado Gigante became a staple of Univision’s programming in the US and was for a while its most popular show. It is the longest-running variety show in history. Ratings, however, have declined in recent years.
Sábado Gigante began in Chile in 1962, before Kreutzberger brought the program to Miami, where it has filmed since. The show airs for three hours every Saturday night in the US and is syndicated in more than 40 countries.
For those not familiar with the show, here’s a taste:
The unabashed craziness of Sábado Gigante made it ripe for imitation, including parodies from Family Guy (video) and The Colbert Report (video), in which Stephen Colbert inhabits his Francisco-inspired alter ego “Esteban Colberto.”
The finale episode will air September 19 on Univision. Kreutzberger will remain with the network to help it develop new projects.