This month, S ábado Gigante turns 50, and its creator and host, Mario “Don Francisco” Kreutzberger is putting together commemorative shows to celebrate. The anniversary versions of the popular variety show will be broadcast over the next few weeks in Chile, where the program was born, and air on its longtime U.S. home Univisión as a special program Oct. 27.
“This 50th anniversary was a highly anticipated goal, and it’s important to highlight it,” Francisco says recently in his dressing room at Univisión’s Doral headquarters. Francisco is fresh off rehearsing a show that will be taped in at few minutes at a studio next door. Surrounded by the active staff and technical equipment that Sábado Gigante requires, he remembers how nervous he was at the show’s debut in Santiago on Aug. 8, 1962.
“The television cameras were huge then, and their lenses resembled gigantic eyes watching me,” he recalls. From the beginning, his show had the stamp of variety that has brought it glory. Among the guests at the debut: a stuttering man narrating a horse race, a female singer and a colorful street vendor.
“I had always clarity that, as it happens in life, my show had to be based on two components — tears and smiles,” Francisco says. While the models for the show being filmed are getting ready a few steps away, Don Francisco says that in the beginning, he thought Sábado Gigante “would perhaps last one year, then four, five, later 18 — but I never expected it would reach 50.”
Francisco, now 71, is still performing vigorously.
“The program has surprisingly adapted to different eras,” says Sábado Gigante general producer Marcelo Amunátegui, who has been with the show for 32 years.
El Nuevo Herald