Raul Velasco, who hosted one of Mexico’s most popular and enduring television programs, “Siempre en Domingo,” died Sunday at his home in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, his network said. He was 73.
Velasco, whose variety show has been compared to “The Ed Sullivan Show,” was credited with launching many of Mexico’s biggest pop stars to fame by having them appear on his show, which was broadcast from 1969-1998.
President Vicente Fox called the death an “irreparable loss” in an open letter to Velasco’s wife Dorle Klokow, distributed by the president’s office.
Fox called Velasco “a founder of entertainment journalism,” adding that, “he leaves us a particularly memorable story of the happiness and entertainment that he knew how to communicate.”
Announcers on the Televisa network, which broadcast “Siempre en Domingo,” or “Always on Sunday,” broke into coverage of a Sunday soccer game to lament Velasco’s death.
On its Web site, the Televisa network posted an article saying Velasco died “surrounded by his family at his home, after an intense struggle against several illnesses.”
“This closes a chapter in the history of Mexican television,” the article said.
Earlier this month, Velasco’s son Arturo told local media that stomach problems had prevented Velasco from appearing at a ceremony in his honor sponsored by an entertainers’ union.
An October homage to Velasco was attended by pop stars including Alejandra Guzman and Puerto Rican singers Ricky Martin and Chayanne.
In 1998, a case of hepatitis forced Velasco to undergo a liver transplant, which local media said hastened the demise of his show.
Jovial in the show’s earlier years, Velasco showed a more spiritual side in later broadcasts. He became known for his favorite phrase: “Aun hay mas,” or “There’s more to come.”