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Mario Kreutzberger, host of 'Sabado Gigante,' going to miss 'everything'

'Don Francisco' discusses show's run as it comes to end Sept. 19

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – It's the end of an era in Spanish television. After 53 years on the air "Sabado Gigante" comes to an end Sept. 19.

In an exclusive interview with Local 10 News, the show's host, Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco, said he is going to miss "everything."

Kreutzberger sat down with Local 10 News anchor Victor Oquendo inside his "Sala de Premios," his trophy room inside his waterfront Miami Beach home. He's done it all in his career and has the hardware to show it.

"The Emmy, the Grammy, the star on the Hollywood (Walk) of Fame, I have almost everything," joked Kreutzberger.

His show holds the Guinness World Record for "Longest-Running Variety TV Show," and he feels now is the right time to walk way.

"We have high ratings, we're doing a good program, and I think this is the right moment to close 'Sabado Gigante' and open a new life," Kreutzberger said.

Kreutzberger wanted to be a tailor until he caught the TV bug. He got his start in Chile when he was 22. He'll be 75 this year. Fifty-three years on the air. To put that in perspective, Johnny Carson hosted the "Tonight Show" for 30 years, Ed Sullivan hosted his show for 23 years and "Saturday Night Live" has been on the air for 40 years.

Ron Magill, of Zoo Miami, has appeared on the show dozens of times over the years and said it single-handedly made him a household name.

"Don Francisco, Mario Kreutzberger, is to the Hispanic culture what Johnny Carson was to us. 'Sabado Gigante' is the 'Tonight Show,'" Magill said.

The show has entertained millions over the years and that speaks to the host's voracious work ethic.

"I'm always scared for the next day," Kreutzberger said. "It's what pushes me every single day. I'm very insecure. That's the truth."

He never let a single rerun air and for many years, never repeated a single suit. While the show is coming to an end, he made it clear, he's not retiring.

"I'm not retiring and I don't think I have to retire. That would damage my mind and my health," he said. "I am so used to communication with the audience, even though I don't see them, I feel them and I need them."

Follow Victor Oquendo on Twitter @VictorLocal10

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