On Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, Univision will air the final episode of Sábado Gigante, the longest-running TV variety show in history. Fifty-three years ago, 22-year-old Mario Kreutzberger adopted the stage name Don Francisco and took to the airwaves in his native Chile. He brought his fast-moving format to the United States in 1986, where it became a staple of Spanish-language television.
For three hours on more than 1,500 Miami Saturdays, Don Francisco presented a mélange of competitions, interview segments, musical guests, dance contests, beauty pageants, polygraph examinations, paternity tests, comic interludes, animal segments, dating games, and just about everything else you can imagine. If you don’t speak Spanish—and sometimes even if you do—the show could be overwhelming and confusing. What was going on with the little people and the costumed man with a trumpet and the endless rush of “bits”? As the show comes to an end, we asked Don Francisco to explain the show’s popularity and predict what its legacy will be.