Sunday, May 4, 2014

Val De La O (Born Valentino De La O) is a retired American Television Producer and Television Host of the Val De La O Show which aired from the early 1960's through 1988. The Val De La O Show was produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was syndicated throughout the United States and parts of Mexico.

Early Life

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Val De La O, short for Valentino, was born in Greeley, Colorado on May 5, 1936 to parents, Rafael De La O and Herminia Torres. His siblings are brother Nel, twin sisters, Belen and Sophie, and sister, Rachel. In 1941, Val’s parents and siblings moved to Hatch, NM to start a family farm. The farm provided a good supplement to their limited income. Val was fortunate that his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and a belief that you could achieve anything if you worked hard enough. In 1954, Val graduated from Hatch Valley High School and earned a Ford Foundation scholarship to attend the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Due to his studious nature and talent, Val went on to attend Boy’s state and All State chorus and was editor of the year book. Unfortunately, when his father took ill, Val returned to Hatch, NM in 1956 to take over the family farm. Later on, he continued his studies. While attending UNM, Val met Calaya Trujillo, who he subsequently married in 1958. They were blessed with three daughters; Novela, Cristal and Carmela. Carmela is developmentally challenged and to this day, still resides in the loving care of her parents. As a teenager, Val always had a love for music and both he and his brother Nel were blessed with great singing voices. Some of his many heroes were, El Trio Los Panchos, and through their inspiration he and his brother Nel, learned to play the guitar. While at UNM, Val would perform in various venues to earn pocket money. A few years later Val, along with his brother Nel, recorded an album of their favorite popular Mexican-Spanish songs.

Career

Val worked for several radio stations, including KFSC-Denver, KLOS & KABQ in Albuquerque among others. In 1960, Val began a half-hour television show – a variety/talk show format on KOAT/TV (ABC affiliate). It was a short stint as he was terminated a year later. He was then asked to join KGGM-TV (CBS affiliate), now KRQE. He was there approximately 4 years until 1964, when his show moved to KOB TV (NBC affiliate). As it turned out, this was a blessing because he stayed with the NBC affiliate until 1985. During this time, the Val De La O show became an local favorite, due in part to the chemistry he developed between his co-stars, Juan Raigoza and Mario Leyba. The show went into national syndication and by 1980 it was seen from coast to coast, from New York to Los Angeles. His guest line-up was one of the many reasons his show became so popular – not to mention his easy going style of interviewing guests mixed with his unique style of humor. In television circles, he was known as the “Hispanic Johnny Carson.”

As his popularity grew, he was recognized by movie studios and record companies as an ideal venue to promote their movies and music to the Hispanic audience. As a result, he interviewed and featured many National and International celebrities such as, Anthony Quinn, Ricardo Montalban, Jose Feliciano, Antonio Aguilar, Pedro Vargas, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltran, Festus, from the show “Gunsmoke”, Kirk Douglas, Johnny Weissmueller, Freddy Fender, and Los Tres Ases.  Several entertainers from Texas and New Mexico such as Rene Ornelas (Rene y Rene), Al Hurricane, Al Hurricane Jr., Baby Gaby and Roberto Griego also appeared on the show and became household names throughout the Southwest and wherever Mexican music is enjoyed. Val was a pioneer in the Hispanic television market in the US.Val was a pioneer in the Hispanic television market in the US. Because of Val’s flourishing career that began at a very young age, he became a role model for rising hopefuls in the music and TV industry. At this time, it was a difficult market to penetrate, but Val was credited for opening the doors for many Hispanic television personalities and gave many “up and coming” young talents their first television break by featuring them on his variety show. Ultimately, most of them went on to become stars in their own right.

New Career

In the early 1980's Val developed an interest in alternative health care and decided to pursue a career in Naturopathic medicine. Shortly after, he enrolled at Trinity School of Natural Medicine and graduated as a Naturopathic Doctor in 1991. During this time, he opened several nutritional stores in New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado. After a long and exciting career, Val is currently enjoying retirement.

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