SANTIAGO, Chile — Don Francisco, one of the best known celebrities in the Hispanic world, will receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame June 8 in recognition of his 38-year television career.
He launched his first one-man show in Chile in 1962; now his “Sabado Gigante” variety show for Univision has an estimated 100 million viewers in 42 countries, and he is seen in 90% of Hispanic homes in the U.S.
Francisco also is the host of Chile’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and uses his huge popularity to raise millions of dollars for charity via his annual telethons.
Francisco, whose real name is Mario Kreutzberger, was brought up in Chile after his parents fled Europe in the late 1930s.
He said he first realized the potential of the Hispanic market while visiting his wife in a U.S. hospital. “The chart described her as white Hispanic Jewish female. I realized that we are not (considered) Mexican, Chilean or Salvadoran, so I started with the Hispanic flag. We are all unified by our language.”