I didn't know Huell Howser but like almost every other Californian I watched him almost daily, since the 1980's, on L.A.'s local PBS station, KCET. After dinner my wife and I would sit back and watch Huell as he took us to the far corners of California. Up and down the state he drove, with his cameraman, Luis Fuerte and later, Cameron Tucker, forever looking for more California Gold to bring to his viewers. Nothing was too grand, nor too trivial. Huell left no stone unturned in his search to bring the best of California to his viewers; landmarks and historical sites, restaurants and greasy spoons, state parks, national parks, ghost towns, museums and famous homes, he shared them all.
Huell Howser was like an old friend, folksy, easy going and easy to like. His “Oh, Louie, Look at that!”, “Oh, my!”or “That's Amazing!”, were just part of the charm. His trips and interviews were unscripted and off the cuff. He would grab someone off the streets and thrust them in front of the camera in his quest for information to pass on to his viewers. In the middle of a conversation with the mayor of a small town, something would catch his eye, and with his boyish enthusiasm he would “Oh, look” and wander away to investigate. No one ever took it the wrong way.
Huell was not a super star in that exaggerated sense and when thinking of Huell I'm reminded of that old question, “Would you rather be popular or well liked?” I think more than anything Huell was well liked, in fact, Huell was loved by his viewers. In time, Huell became a part of that California Gold he loved so much, though he would never say that.
I missed my chance to meet Huell when he came to my workplace, the Boeing Company in Long Beach, California, several years ago. He came and spoke with the crew I work with. I was sick when I found out I had missed him! He won't be coming back.
Huell passed away last Sunday, January 6, 2013, of natural causes. Our condolences, to his family, loved ones and his many friends. He will be sincerely missed. R.I.P. Huell Howser.
So many great episodes from Huell Howser but this is my favorite.