With the end of the 53-year Spanish-language TV staple Saturday, we asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network: Will you miss Sabado Gigante? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
Above, all Sabado Gigante was an institution. I grew up on it. I watched it with my grandmother and great grandmother who would shout at the TV: “Who told this woman she could sing?” “Who chose that dress for the model; she looks like a poorly wrapped tamale!” I even had a cousin who, at 4 years old, proudly entered the talent competition and shook her “colita” much to the amusement of the audience, TV viewers and my entire family, which had gathered in the living room to witness her television debut.
In 53 years, the show’s ever-recognizable host, Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld, better known as Don Francisco, only ever missed one show — the day his mother passed away. Whatever you may have thought of the show, that kind of determination and hard work is undeniable. So, in his own words, “¿Qué dice el público?”
Santi Gabino, Homestead
My sister Dolores and I have eagerly waited each Saturday for Sabado Gigante to watch and enjoy the myriad of segments and heartwarming presentations that made us laugh — mostly — with some episodes that made us choke with emotion. Don Francisco has accompanied us for so many years. My sister Dolores just turned 96, and I reached my 97th birthday in June.
We are certainly going to miss our favorite show of all time. We basically lived from Saturday to Saturday, waiting for that wonderful show and its host, Don Francisco. We are very apprehensive about what will be put in its place. We fear that we may never again recover from that show's departure from the TV screen. That TV show is one more thing that leaves us while we still carry on living.
Zermira Hidalgo, Kendall
There was nothing more consistent in my home than my family gathering to watch Sabado Gigante. It was a weekly holiday such that no matter how poor we were, how bad the weather was or whatever family problem we had, "Sabado Gigante time," as dad called it, was a total celebration. When I went on to college I always tuned into Sabado Gigante in between partying and studying — my Anglo friends never understood it.
Carlos Avila, Miami
I'm especially sad to see it go because I will no longer have it as a weekly reminder of my late father. He was a contestant on the show in 1992, winning some cash and a brand new Honda Civic. I was 16 at the time. It was one of the most exciting moments in my family's history. We joined him and Don Francisco on stage, sang the theme song and danced around the car as the closing credits ran. It was complete euphoria and one of the happiest and most prominent memories I have of my dad.
Carlos Raurell, Coral Gables
I had a particular fondness for that show because I remember my grandparents and other family during my youth being so thoroughly entertained by it. I think it helped them get along with their lives as fresh immigrants to this country. When Don Francisco interviewed the president, I learned that he was actually a very intelligent man, and I gathered that his lively variety show was not just a call to entertain but some place for people to go via their televisions. They should name a public park in his honor.
Joe Gato, Miami Beach
I watched the show from day one when I arrived in New York, until now that I moved to Florida. The show had a portion of everything, always had somebody from my Puerto Rico working there. I’m planning to get me a good jar of good vodka to have a few while I enjoy the show. These type of shows happen only once in a lifetime.
Manuel Rivera, Margate
I watched it and I'm thrilled and happy it's all over. That man treated his audience like little school kids and making them sing along to his sponsors’ commercials.
Carlos Rosario, Hialeah
I use to watch the show more often about 20 plus years ago when my daughter Melissa Goldsmith was one of the kid dancers. She danced for the show for five or six years. I have wonderful memories and all their dances on video and many pictures of the actors and all the people involved. I liked the variety of the entertainment, the dancing, the comedy skits and all the new talent they would bring.
Nick Goldsmith, Miami
I have fond memories of watching the program with my grandmother who loved it. In 1987, I would pick up my grandmother on weekends and we would watch it in the family room on Saturdays. My grandmother has since died but every time I see the show on TV, it reminds me of her.
Marianne Salazar, Miami
I will miss it like I miss the Ed Sullivan Show. Sabado was this country's replacement, ahead of the curve, a precursor for America's future Spanish-speaking majority. I will miss it and will watch it with Spanish-speaking friends who will fill me in on what's being said. When my son was in elementary school, he appeared on Sabado Gigante. He didn't speak Spanish but that didn't stop Don Francisco from asking him a question before he danced with a Venezuelan cutie. He later grew up and married a Brazilian cutie he met in elementary school in Miami. Only in Miami would this happen and only in Miami (or certain parts of Hialeah) could a show flourish like Sabado Gigante did for all those record-breaking years.
David Copeland, Miami Beach
I didn't watch the show, but my dad, who passed away three years ago at 94, watched the show religiously for at least 25 years. What made that special was that my dad couldn't speak a word of Spanish!
Albert Rothstein, Fort Lauderdale