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Don Francisco

Host, Sábado Gigante

Mario Kreutzberger, better known as “Don Francisco,” is the creator and host of “Sábado Gigante” (Giant Saturday), the longest running variety show in television history and one of the most successful Spanish-language television programs ever aired.


Born in Chile, the son of German Jewish immigrants who escaped their country during the turbulent times preceding World War II, Kreutzberger is a distinguished TV host and producer, entrepreneur, composer, and author who has been involved in virtually every aspect of the entertainment industry for five decades. His fascination with television dates back to the early 1960s, when he pursued an opportunity to work in Chile’s fledgling broadcasting industry. His debut program, titled “Show Dominical” (Sunday Show), aired with limited success and was cancelled twice. On the third attempt, Kreutzberger added a number of new elements, called it “Sábado Gigante,” and began hosting it under the stage name “Don Francisco.” And so, on August 8, 1962, he launched the show that would make television history.


In 1986, “Sábado Gigante” began airing on WLTV-Channel 23 in Miami, and shortly thereafter its broadcast was expanded to the entire country and most of Latin America through the Univision Network.  


On May 20, 2006, after 44 years on the air, The Guinness Book of World Records recognized “Sábado Gigante” as ”the world’s longest running variety program, created and hosted uninterruptedly by Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco.” The record was certified and published in the 2007 edition, and “Sábado Gigante” still holds that record to this day.


During his distinguished career, Kreutzberger has received numerous honors and awards. In 2005, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences recognized him with a special Emmy Award as “Leader of Spanish-Language Television,” and in 2010 he received a Hispanic Heritage Award. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2012. In addition, Kreutzberger has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is featured in the Museum of Television and Radio. Throughout the years he has appeared in many prestigious U.S. publications such as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Times, Advertising Age, BusinessWeek, and People, among others, and has been interviewed on numerous U.S. television shows and newscasts, including NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Nightline.”


A passionate humanitarian with special interest in the welfare of children, in 1978 Kreutzberger created the Chilean “Teletón,” an annual telethon that raises millions of dollars each year to benefit disabled children. The event’s enormous success has led 12 other nations to follow his lead and create their own telethons, all operating under the International Telethon Organization (ORITEL), for which Kreutzberger has been designated President for Life.  In September 2008, then Chilean president Michelle Bachelet bestowed upon him the country’s highest honor, the “Condecoración Por Servicios Meritorios” (Decoration for Exemplary Service), for his humanitarian efforts.

My Speakers Sessions

Wednesday, March 18