This Saturday, September 26, marks the first time in 53 years that television viewers around the world won’t be able to tune in to Univision’s variety show extravaganza, Sábado Gigante. After 2600 consecutive weeks on the air, the series finale took place last weekend (everyone from Juanes to the Obamas paid their respects to the beloved show and its host, Don Francisco). Below are some fast facts to help you fill the gigante hole in your Saturday evening.
1. IT HOLDS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD.
Sábado Gigante has been certified by Guinness World Records (four times) as the longest-running TV variety show in history. In its more than half-century of broadcasting (that's more than 16,000 hours of programming), it has never aired a rerun.
The son of German Jewish immigrants who moved to Chile to escape Nazi persecution, Don Francisco (full name: Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld, though he typically goes by Mario Kreutzberger) was encouraged to pursue his tailor father's trade. In his early 20s, he headed to New York to learn how to sew—but instead spent most of his time falling in love with the relatively new medium of television. Kreutzberger watched hours of it every day; Johnny Carson became a personal hero. Upon his return to Santiago, he decided to make a go at a career as a television host.
3. KREUTZBERGER ONLY MISSED ONE EPISODE. EVER.
That was in 1974, when his mother, Anna, passed away.
4. IT HELPED LAUNCH THE CAREERS OF SOFIA VERGARA AND SHAKIRA ...
... and Marc Anthony, Thalia, Enrique Iglesias, and many more Latino stars who appeared on the program back when they were still relatively unknown.
5. DON FRANCISCO ONCE STOOD UP TO A BRUTAL DICTATOR.
After Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile in 1973, Chilean soldiers held Kreutzberger hostage, demanding he use his show to announce the success of Pinochet’s coup and the establishment of a military junta. Kreutzberger managed to convince Pinochet that his comedic series wasn't the appropriate platform for this kind of announcement. Throughout Sábado Gigante’s run, Kreutzberger remained committed to keeping politics far away from set. "I have to reach everybody," he reasoned. "[So] this show is not political."