From the stage where he's entertained millions of Latinos with his booming voice and clownish persona, Mario Kreutzberger -- better known far and wide as Don Francisco -- made his first comments about the decision to end “Sábado Gigante” after 53 years.
"Forgive me at the beginning for taking a few seconds -- more than the usual -- to converse with you," Kreutzberger said in Spanish at the start of Saturday's show. "Those of you who are here in the studio today represent the 750,000 people that have sat here over the course of our 1,500 days of the program."
Univision announced Friday that the Spanish-language TV staple would wrap up its campy antics later this year. The Miami-based weekly variety show has long been an institution for Latino immigrants and their children.
Over its run, the show has established itself as an important part of the network's history and identity, as well as Spanish-language television in the U.S. Planning for the show's retirement was carefully thought out and began after its 50th anniversary in 2012.
With melancholic music playing and the audience looking on, Kreutzberger noted the show's legacy within the Latino community.
"We have done what no one has ever done. We created a history that no one has ever done -- a history that cannot be repeated."
A montage of clips from the show's long run played as Kreutzberger took time to acknowledge the show's crew.
He closed out his comments in true Don Francisco style:
"Since my first day here, I've always asked: 'What does the public want!?'" he said in his booming voice, leading the crowd into a chant of the theme song.
The final airing of “Sábado Gigante" is slated for Sept. 19 on Univision.
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