Santos, Sílvio (1931–)

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Santos, Sílvio (1931–)

Sílvio Santos (Senhor Abravanel; b. 1931), Brazilian television variety show host, network owner, and 1989 presidential candidate, represents one of the major rags-to-riches stories of Brazil. He started as a street peddler (camelô) and developed a Sunday afternoon television variety show that is still one of the most popular in Brazil, featuring games, amateur performances, music, and sensational interviews, such as an adaptation of Queen for a Day, in which poor women vie to tell the most pathetic life story. In 1976, he purchased TV Record (São Paulo), and in 1978, TV Rio. In 1981, Santos was awarded four licenses for Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belém, and Pôrto Alegre that belonged to TV Tupi, the earliest Brazilian network, which had gone bankrupt. Within two years, his SBT/TVS network had twenty-one affiliates and roughly 25 percent of the audience, ranking second after TV Globo, which often had 60 to 80 percent of the audience. The network followed the pattern of Santos's own programs, emphasizing four or five live variety shows, lowbrow comedies, imported series and films from the United States, and telenovelas and comedies from Mexico. Santos's programming aimed at a popular (lower-middle-class to lower-class) audience and was very successful. He briefly tried to compete for a broader audience with more news and his own telenovelas, but returned to popular programming. In 1989, after creating an empire of over forty businesses, including some in agriculture, real estate, and sales, Santos made a late entry into the 1989 Brazilian presidential race. His personal popularity put him high in polls, but the party that nominated him was found to be improperly registered and his candidacy was quickly canceled.

He has influenced Brazilian television in many ways, particularly by producing Brazilian versions of popular American shows such as Câmera Escondida (Candid Camera), Show do Milhão (Who Wants To Be a Millionaire), O Grande Perdedor (The Biggest Loser), Roda a Roda (Wheel of Fortune), Topa ou Não Topa (Deal or No Deal) and Ídolos (The Idol series).

See alsoRadio and Television .


Joseph Straubhaar, "Brazilian Television Variety Shows," in Studies of Latin American Popular Culture 2 (1983): 71-78.

Additional Bibliography

Arlindo Silva. Fantástica História de Silvio Santos. Brazil: IMES Noticias, Diario online.

                                      Joseph Straubhaar

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Santos, Sílvio (1931–)

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