Sábado Gigante, the world's longest-running variety show and an iconic part of Spanish-language broadcasting, has announced it will end its 53-year run in September. Originating in Chile, the program has taped for 30 of those years in Miami. The final broadcast is scheduled for September 19, 2015.
No official reason was given for the cancellation. The program continues to pull in strong ratings across the globe, but host and creator Mario Kreutzberger, better known by his stage name Don Francisco, is now 74 years old. However, Kreutzberger will remain with the Univision network. He'll continue to host the annual benefit program TeletonUSA and occasional specials for the network.
"When we began in the United States in 1986, we told them that we were 'separated by distance and united by the same language,'" Kreutzberger said in a statement. "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.”
Don Francisco created the program in his native Chile in 1963 with the idea of mashing up various genres of television into a multihour extravaganza. The result was part talk show, part sketch comedy, part talent competition, and part game show with ample room left over for whatever else Kreutzberger and his team could devise.
The show became an icon of Latin American camp and was parodied and referenced multiple times on English-language television. Stephen Colbert featured a recurring segment on The Colbert Report dubbed "Colberto Reporto Gigante," hosted by his alias, Esteban Colbert. On The Simpsons, Krusty the Clown referenced Don Francisco as a rival out to ruin his career. Family Guy once made fun of the show's tendency to focus on well-endowed women.
The show also remained a popular stop for A-list stars and other VIPs, with presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both appearing on episodes.
All morning, Twitter has been mourning the show's cancellation while also honoring its generation-spanning appeal and status.
Somewhere in Mexico, my grandma is threatening everyone with a chancla over Sabado Gigante. She's my hero.— Ella Cerón (@ellaceron) April 17, 2015
Sabado Gigante is going off the air? I can't believe it... It was a TV staple growing up lol. Truly the end of an era....— Melissa (@WhoaMellyNYC) April 17, 2015
Sabado Gigante going off the air really means we are living in the end of days— Kazeem Famuyide (@RealLifeKaz) April 17, 2015
Wowww, Sabado Gigantes last season...... Don Francisco I grew up watching you. 53 yrs of this show. Amazing— §uarez (@lepesorousss) April 17, 2015
@latimes Learned to speak Spanish as an adult, primarily from watching Don Francisco.— Bijan C. Bayne (@bijancbayne) April 17, 2015
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Don Francisco, short dresses and Kellogg's ads... The end of a generation. Adios Sabado Gigante— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVegaABC) April 17, 2015
Don Francisco was a part of every latin family. That uncle you'd see once a week— Neo (@Joe_Telometo) April 17, 2015