Don Francisco (television host)
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|Born||Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld
December 28, 1940
|Other names||Don Francisco|
|Home town||New York City, New York|
Don Francisco Presenta
|Spouse(s)||Teresa "Temmy" Muchnik Rosenblum (1963-present; 3 children)|
Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld (December 28, 1940), better known by his stage name, Don Francisco, is a Chilean television host, and a popular personality on the Univision network reaching Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States. He is best known for hosting the variety shows Sábado Gigante and Don Francisco Presenta.
"Don Francisco" was born to Erick Kreutzberger and Anna Blumenfeld Neufeld, German-Jewish immigrants who fled to Chile to escape Nazi persecution. As a youth, he traveled to New York to study to be a tailor, but he spent most of the time watching TV.
Back in Chile, where TV was just beginning, "Don Francisco" started a TV show in 1962, and he named it Sábados Gigantes on Canal 13. In it, he adapted many of the formulas he had seen in American television to the Chilean public. The show became an instant hit that has lasted over 50 years. In 1986, the show began to be produced by Univision in Miami, Florida, with the same formula used in Chile, with the slightly different name of Sábado Gigante. "Don Francisco" immediately became a household name among Hispanic families across the United States, and in the following six years Kreutzberger developed a three hour long variety show, including contests, comedy, interviews and a traveling camera section. Many argue that the talent on his shows were scouted from another show called "Jugaremos en Familia" hosted by Memo Flores in Los Angeles, California. The traveling camera, or Cámara Viajera (originally La Película Extranjera, The Foreign Movie), has taken "Don Francisco" to over 185 countries worldwide, many of them more than once. Kreutzberger in his show has interviewed many celebrities, including Roberto Durán, Cristina Saralegui, Sussan Taunton, Charytín, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and many others. In addition, his show has launched the careers of famous entertainers, such as Lili Estefan, Sissi and numerous more.
Nowadays, Kreutzberger has stopped flying back and forth between Miami and Chile each week to tape both the Chilean and the international shows and his daughter Vivian is becoming quite popular as the host of the Chilean show. Apparently, having to travel so much between Miami and his home country, plus having to travel to worldwide locations to tape La Cámara Viajera, was becoming too strenuous for him.
Kreutzberger has also hosted Chilean versions of ¿Quién merece ser millonario? (based on the original British format of the international Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise) and Deal or No Deal.
In 2002, Kreutzberger's show completed 40 years, and its host said he has no plans to retire before the day he dies.
In 2012, Sabado Gigante celebrated 50 years on air.
False Death Reports
On April Fool's Day, 2003, a rumor that Kreutzberger had died surfaced around the New York and New Jersey area. The rumor proved false, but sent many of his fans into a panic until it was revealed as an April Fool's joke.
Currently, Kreutzberger hosts two weekly shows on Univision: his normal stint of Sábado Gigante on Saturdays, and Don Francisco Presenta (Don Francisco Presents), a more serious interview-only show on a par with Cristina Saralegui's offering, on Wednesdays.
Kreutzberger also promotes and hosts the Teletón, a TV charity show for disabled Chilean children; there have been 22 telethons over 30 years. He is also the Hispanic spokesperson for the US Muscular Dystrophy Association, in which he also appears in a pre-recorded piece on its annual telethon, to appeal to Hispanics to donate.
Kreutzberger was also the first host of the Teletón USA telethon, which was introduced in December 2012 on the Univision network; the event and charity is based on the popular Mexican telethon.
Don Francisco has been in commercials for La Curaçao Department Stores. He was even present for the opening of La Curaçao's South Gate, California location.
In 2010, the U.S. Social Security Administration enlisted Don Francisco to appear in a series of public service announcements to reach out to American Hispanics about the benefits of Social Security.
- Larry Rother (2002-06-02). "TELEVISION/RADIO; For 100 Million, He Is Saturday Night". The New York Times.
- Judith W. Rosenthal (2009-08-14). "The story of 'Don Francisco'". The Jewish State.
- Lee Alan Hill. "Giant of Spanish TV First in U.S. Production." Television Week, 30 May 2005, p. 26
- "Longest running TV variety show". Guinness. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Archive of American Television: Mario Kreutzberger
- Latin Trends: "Don Francisco talks about Social Security Benefits Online!"; no date.
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