TV legend Don Francisco earns place in history with longest presenting career

By Luisa Sánchez
split image don francisco wirh book

Mario Kreutzberger, better known as Don Francisco, is one of the most charismatic and beloved TV hosts in Latin America and around the world. 

Born in Chile to Jewish parents, Don Francisco has worked as a television show host for more than 60 years. 

His discipline, perseverance and daily work have propelled him to two Guinness World Records titles for: 

  • Longest career as a variety TV show presenter (male) - 60 years 277 days 
  • Oldest variety TV show host (male) - 82 years 85 days 

At the same time, Sábado Gigante, Don Francisco’s show, holds the title for the longest running variety TV show hosted by the same presenter (53 years 42 days). 

Don Francisco with gwr certificates profile

The programme, of Chilean origin, was first presented on 8 August 1962 on Channel 13 in Chile and came to an end on 19 September 2015 in the United States, after being broadcast for several years on the Univision television network. 

Don Francisco, was the host in charge of opening the doors of the programme to the Hispanic public. 

Kreutzberger cultivated a loyal audience through his charisma, humanity and closeness to the public. For decades, he delivered to Hispanic homes and the world an entertainment space full of joy, hope and fun. 

Don Francisco interacting with his audience

The character of “Don Francisco” was born of an imitation of a German Jewish man who lived in Chile and could not speak Spanish well. During the beginning of his career, Kreutzberger would perform stand-up comedy at the Macabí Cultural Club and emulate Francisco, the character who went on to accompany him for the rest of his life. 

Some time later, he applied for a television program as a joke teller; he was asked for his name, to which he answered Mario Kreutzberger, and he was immediately told that he would not get anywhere with that name. So, from that moment on, "Don Francisco" came to life. 

Kreutzberger highlights the importance of perseverance throughout his life. Since the beginning of his career, he had to face different challenges and situations that led him to work with greater urgency and resolve to overcome obstacles and build a successful professional career. 

"Perseverance is what allowed me to jump over all these different hurdles I had from the beginning. The first obstacle was the eighth week I started working in 1962; I was fired. However, in the ninth week, I was reinstated."

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Don Francisco's life is full of countless unforgettable moments that have marked great milestones in history. This dreamer and unstoppable worker settled in the United States in 1986. There he further established his career as a presenter and became one of the most influential Latinos of recent years. 

The legendary presenter has many memorable personal and professional stories from his long life on screen, among them his migration to the United States, the evolution and positioning of his career and numerous interviews with world leaders.   

His life is a museum full of amazing stories, which he has compiled in his autobiography Con ganas de vivir

Record holder don francisco profile photo

During his career, Kreutzberger has received important awards and tributes, among them, a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood (2001), the Papal Benemerenti Medal awarded by Pope John Paul II (2002), an Emmy Award (2005), and an inscription in the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the United States (2012). 

In addition, he has dedicated much of his career to social projects; he was honored as a UNICEF Ambassador and since 2012 he has been Vice President of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the United States. He has also been a presenter for the Chilean Teletón. 


Carlos Martinez, Vice President of Guinness World Records, had the honour of meeting Kreutzberger before the official presentation of his certificates. 

"It is a great honour to once again celebrate Don Francisco as an Official Guinness World Records record holder. Don Francisco first entered his name in our book in 1993. Today, 30 years later, he continues to add records, which shows not only his perseverance, but also his exceptional relevance and contribution to the world of communication and culture in our language. Congratulations to Don Francisco, and here's to many more successes in the future." - Carlos Martínez 

Official Adjudicator for Guinness World Records, Sarah Casson, presented Don Francisco with his certificates on the morning show Despierta America; a unique moment in front of a television audience that so appreciates and admires the beloved star. 

In 2021, he joined CNN en Español, hosting the program Reflexiones con Don Francisco (Reflections with Don Francisco), which has so far brought together more than 160 guests, including artists, prominent personalities, scientists, and people who have lived unique experiences. 

His legacy has also been captured in the pages of the new edition of the Guinness World Records 2024 book. 

"I feel very honoured to hold three Guinness World Records titles. This is the result of many years of hard work, dedication and perseverance." 

Don Francisco with the book

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