An institution in Mexican television, Chabelo, the friend of all children, has said farewell after almost half a century on the air, putting an end to the longest-running show on Mexican TV.
En Familia con Chabelo (Family Life With Chabelo) first aired on November 26, 1967 and quickly became a Sunday morning staple for Mexican families.
On December 30, 2012, the show was awarded a Guinness Record for its 44 years of uninterrupted broadcast. Xavier López was awarded another Guinness Record for portraying the Chabelo character for over 57 years.
On November 27, Chabelo announced his long-running show’s final air date.
After 2,459 weekly episodes, Chabelo said his final goodbyes yesterday to his fans, who span generations.
The three-hour-long show was typical. Chabelo randomly drew from his studio audience of 500 people, involving both children and their parents join in what had become traditional competitions, often accompanied with songs from his vast repertoire.
Children from around the country and elsewhere in the Americas also had a chance to be part of the show via telephone.
At the end, the much-awaited climax of the show, in which Chabelo drew three names from all the day’s winners, giving them the chance to take part in his famous catafixias, where contestants were given the option to swap the prizes they had already won for others hidden behind a curtain.
The catch — there always was one — was that behind the curtain contestants often found jokes or just candies instead of the hoped-for prizes, although one or two of them also hid bigger wins.
At the end of the show, Chabelo thanked his audience “for filling this studio.”
“Every time you’re here, you let me do what I chose to do with my life. When a man does what he likes all his life, he is a very fortunate man, as I am, and that’s why I now say to you, thank you very much.”
On his Twitter account he expressed the same feeling, adding hope for his fans: “Thanks, buddies, a heartfelt thank you! We’ll soon see each other.”
People in the audience said after the end of the show that the mood in the studio was very sad. Initially, Chabelo said his farewells through the studio’s speakers, but the audience’s expressions of affection persuaded him to return to the stage and spend some time with them.
Chabelo was joined during the show by Televisa CEO Emilio Azcárraga, who said he felt “proud to be standing next to such an important character, mainstay of many [media] formats.”
Chabelo also received a letter from President Enrique Peña Nieto, which he read on air. The president thanked the TV host for his “permanent professionalism and commitment to family values.”
For many, including the host himself, it was emotional.
“At one point he couldn’t help himself and he wept. We were all very emotional,” said one audience member.
As with many characteristics of the Chabelo persona and his show, the word catafixia has become part of everyday language in many Spanish-speaking countries. It means swapping or exchanging something, often to one’s detriment.
The 80-year-old Xavier López, who stands an imposing 1.92 meters tall, gave life each week to Chabelo, decked out in his trademark short pants, suspenders and socks, a character who will long be remembered by generations of Mexicans.
Source: CNN Expansión (sp)
A clip from a 2014 episode of the show.