Voiceover by Lawrence Standifer Stevens
Written by Joseph E. Casanova
After 50+ years, popular Spanish-language variety show, Sabado Gigante, is going off the air. What a legacy!
There are two times you don’t call my family – when they are watching their favorite novelas or during their favorite Latin variety show, Sabado Gigante (“Giant Saturday”).
That was especially true for my late grandma Rita who told us never to call from 10 am to 3 pm or from 6 pm to 8 pm. That was when her favorite novelas were on. Now my mom does the same thing to me and my sister if we call around 7 or 8 pm. We’d be halfway through our conversation when she’d say, “Can I call you back? I’m watching my stories.”
Grandma really enjoyed Sabado Gigante and its popular host Don Francisco, whom many of the relatives regarded as “familia”. She especially liked the comedians and the parody sketches.
My dad told me the only reason he watched the three-hour show was for the musical entertainment, but we knew different. It was for the lovely, scantily-clad women often featured as backup dancers or models for the game show segments.
I started watching Sabado Gigante in 1997 when I first moved to Lytle because Univision was one of the few channels I actually had. It also introduced me to various Latin artists, including ranchero balladeer Pepe Aguilar and famous Mexican singer-songwriter Marco Antonio Solis. I’ve seen both in concert in many, many times.
Don Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, starting hosting in his native Chile in 1962. The show established itself as a tv mainstay throughout Latin America in the
70’s, eventually moving to Miami in 1986.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the world’s longest running variety series, eventually netting an Emmy for its popular ringmaster Don Francisco.
Now my relatives will have to find something else to do on Saturday nights as Sabado Gigante will broadcast its last show in September, marking the end of its legendary 50+ year run. It will feel like the end of an era.
Hopefully, Don Francisco won’t become one of those relatives we only see at weddings or funerals. Thanks for making us laugh and cry. Hope to see you soon.