After 53 years on the air, Univision announced today that its top-rated variety show, “Sábado Gigante,” hosted and created by the legendary Don Francisco, will come to an end on Sept. 19, 2015.
The final show will coincide with the end of the 2014-2015 broadcast television season.
Don Francisco, who’s real name is Mario Kreutzberger, will continue hosting entertainment specials and making appearances on Univision campaigns such as “TeletónUSA,” which is held every year on behalf of disabled children.
According to the network, he will also take part in Univision’s ongoing efforts to look for and develop new on-air talent and professionals.
There had been some recent rumblings that the 74-year old entertainer was ready to retire, although there was some talk over the past two years that Univision wanted to look for other “younger” options for the Saturday night prime time slot.
“Sábado Gigante” first launched in 1962 on Chile’s Channel 13. It launched in the U.S. in 1986. The show is still No. 1 on Saturday nights among Hispanics and has made history in the television industry as the longest running variety show on the air, hosting some of the biggest Latino music stars over the past five decades.
In a statement released by Univision, Mario Kreutzberger says of the end of his show:
“I’m excited to share with the audience this announcement, with which we’re starting to bring to a close the 53-year cycle of ‘Sábado Gigante,’ 30 of which were possible thanks to Univision in the United States. There is no doubt that they have been fundamental in my professional development and in my personal and family life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Channel 13 of the Universidad Católica de Chile gave me as I was starting out, to Univision in the United States and also to the Televisa Network, which allowed us to bring our ‘Sábado Gigante’ into the homes of millions of families in the United States and the world every week. I have no words to thank our viewers for the support, loyalty and enthusiasm with which they have honored us through the years and which have allowed the show to become an unprecedented success in the history of this medium. Special and warm thanks to the outstanding production team, technicians, artists and behind-the-scenes collaborators, because without their efforts and sacrifice, we would have never reached this impressive goal. Over the past five decades, hundreds of professionals have been part of our ‘Sábado Gigante’ team, which allowed for the first 24 years of accolades in Chile, and the following 30 years of success in the United States and the world.
From the start we made sure to ask, ‘What does the audience want?!’ And we have worked tirelessly for precisely that audience, with the utmost dedication, humility and deep respect. I have no words to acknowledge all the recognition and applause that we have received over the years. When we began in the United States in 1986, we told them that we were ‘separated by distance and united by the same language.’ Today I can say with great pride and satisfaction that that distance turned into closeness and affection. To all those who joined us by tuning in to ‘Sábado Gigante’ with their constructive criticism, work and loyalty, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart and in capital letters, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.”