Better known as “Don Francisco,” Kreutzberger was born in Talca, a city in southern Chile. He is the son of German Jewish immigrants who escaped Germany during the turbulent times preceding World War II. As a child he enjoyed taking singing and drama lessons, and began his acting career during his teenage years. His father; however, hoping Kreutzberger would follow in his footsteps by working in the garment industry, sent him to apprentice in New York City, considered the world mecca for the industry at the time.
Upon his return to Chile, Kreutzberger began working in his newly acquired profession, but his fascination with television and his staunch perseverance made it possible for him to secure a place in this fledgling medium that was timidly taking its first steps. His debut program, titled Show Dominical (Sunday Show), aired with limited success and was cancelled on two occasions. On the third attempt, Kreutzberge added a number of new elements and ideas, called it Sábado Gigante (Gigantic Saturday) and hosted it under the stage name “Don Francisco.”
That’s how, on August 8th, 1962, the show that went on to make television history was born.
In 1986, Sábado Gigante began airing on WLTV-Channel 23 in Miami, and a short time later its broadcast was expanded to the entire United States and most of Latin America through the most important Hispanic network in the U.S., Univision, and to the rest of the world via Galavisión.
In 1992 and in 2003, the prestigious “Guinness Book of World Records” recognized Sabado Gigante as the longest running show in the Americas.
In October 2001, Kreutzberger launched Don Francisco Presenta, a talk show that airs weekly in primetime on the Univision Network.
During his 47-year career as a communicator, Kreutzberger has received numerous industry recognitions from public and private institutions in the United States and Latin America.
In June 2001, he was honored with the 2,179th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located in one of the Walk’s most important areas, just a few steps from the famous Chinese Theater.
He is featured in the “Museum of Television and Radio” in the U.S., and in November 2004 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the prestigious industry publication “Broadcasting & Cable.”
Classified as the second most powerful Latino by TV Guide en Español (November 1999), Kreutzberger has been widely recognized by prominent U.S. general market publications that have printed stories about him, as well as, personal interviews, among them The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Times, Advertising Age, Business Week, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and The Miami Herald.
On June 3rd, 2005, the “National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences” recognized Mario Kreutzberger’s contributions to the growth of Spanish-language television in the United States by honoring him with a special Emmy Award: “Leader of Spanish-Language Television.”
On May 9th, 2006, members of the United States Congress honored Don Francisco for his efforts to bridge the gap between the North American and Latin American cultures.
During the past few years, in addition to his work on television, Mario Kreutzberger has been dedicated to the production of documentaries. He produced and appeared in Testigos del Silencio (Witnesses of Silence), a gripping film that documents, in first person, his own experiences during the March for Life, an event hosted by the Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust. In the film, Kreutzberger pays special homage to his parents, survivors of this dramatic chapter in the history of humanity.