For many Angelenos, 'Sábado Gigante' is a family tradition

For many Angelenos, 'Sábado Gigante' is a family tradition
Univision's long-running "Sábado Gigante" will go off the air Sept. 19. (Rodrigo Varela / Getty Images)

For many Latinos in Southern California, "Sábado Gigante" was a Saturday staple, bringing together young and old for an evening of laughs, scantily clad women and musical acts.

Even if it wasn't quite your thing, it had a feeling of a ritual.


Lucio Roldan, 28, and his family gathered around their television most Saturdays to watch the variety show. He was an unabashed fan.

"This was the best show," Roldan said as he sipped juice at a Long Beach bakery.

He loved everything about the show, including its host, Mario Kreutzberger (better known as Don Francisco) and El Chacal de la Trompeta, a character who blows a trumpet and cuts off bad performers, like in "The Gong Show."

Others, like Isela Valdez, 40, of La Puente, said they eventually lost their love for the show.

She said she enjoyed the show for special episodes in which  Don Francisco would travel the globe and report back on different cultures.

When the show started to focus almost exclusively on artists and singers, the sociology major at Cal State Los Angeles said she stopped watching.

The best body contests and the racy outfits got to be too much, Valdez said as she sat outside the campus student union.

"That machismo is outdated," she said. "I don't want to watch something where they just see women as sex objects."

On Friday, Univision announced the end of the TV show has aired for 53 years and on 3,000 Saturdays. The show is the longest-running variety show in TV history.

The show was shown in more than 40 countries and drew tens of millions of viewers. In the United States, 2 million -- most in Los Angeles, Miami and New York -- watched the weekly show.

The final episode will air Sept. 19.

Rosie Vasquez, 71, expressed surprise.

"'Sábado Gigante'? Oh my God. What will I do without Don Francisco?" she said."This world is going under."

Others said the show had become outdated.


As he pumped gas into his car in Lincoln Heights, Mario Gutierrez, 39, of Boyle Heights said he hadn't watched "Sábado Gigante" in years.

"I can see why it's going, it is old school. I don't think it really catches the eye of the juveniles today," he said. "It's a bummer for our elders though."

Isabel Sanchez, 32, of Echo Park said she was sad to see the show go. For Sanchez, the show was old-fashioned, but it brought her family together on the weekends to share some laughs.

"I've been watching it since I was 10," she said.

Andrea Gomez, 58, said she stopped watching the show two years ago, saying the show seemed to be on a loop of the same.  Kreutzberger, she said, needs to step aside and allow others to have a chance to take over the prime-time spot.

"It got too repetitive, like a monotone," Gomez said. "I started to feel like I was losing time."

Los Angeles Times staff writer Taylor Goldenstein contributed to this report.

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