Huell Howser dies ‘California’s Gold’ (video)

Huell Howser of ‘California’s Gold,’ has died in his Los Angeles home late Sunday night of natural causes after battling what his producer and longtime friend Ryan Morris described as a “long-term illness.”

His longtime station said on Monday, an announcement that set off a flood of heartfelt condolences from his fans in the Gold State and beyond. The 67-year-old Tennessee native quietly retired in late November after 25 years after completing over 400 episodes. He hosted his show for 18 seasons. The show’s low-budget production values and Howser’s unabashed sense of wonder garnered a cult following — he was even parodied (falling off of a turnip truck) on The Simpsons.

“Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state,” KCET said in a statement. “… Most importantly, he reminded us to find the magic and wonderment in our lives every day.”

Less than 20 minutes after KCET posted news of Howser’s death on its Facebook page, more than 150 fans had posted responses mourning his loss and remembering his impact on California and their lives.
They remembered him as “amazing,” a “favorite” and “one-of-a-kind talent” who also possessed a “kind curiosity.”

Huell Burnley Howser was born in October 18, 1945 in Gallatin, Tennessee. He received and B.A. in history from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Howser’s television carreer began at WSM-TV in Nashville. He began a series of “human interest” stories for WSM. Howser became extremely popular as the host of a popular segment on what was at that time still a market-dominant station, especially with regard to local news.

California’s Gold show, small towns, landmarks, events or places of interest throughout California that are not well-known to the general public, with Howser conducting informal interviews with the locals. He also produced derived shows including California’s Golden Parks, California’s Water, Visiting… with Huell Howser, Our Neighborhoods, The Bench, Road Trip, “California’s Golden Fairs,” and various specials. Amount other works Howser also has written articles in Westways, the magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California. In 2011, Howser voiced The Backson in the post-credits scene of Walt Disney Animation Studios’s 2011 feature film, “Winnie the Pooh.”

This passion was not lost on Simpsons creator Matt Greoning, who brought Huell into a national spotlight, however briefly.
From KPCC last month:
“Groening is a fan of Howser because of his optimism, of course; that howser can get genuinely and completely enthused by an artichoke festival. He loves [that] the show’s production requires minimal editing and even fewer cuts–a refeshing change. But most of all, said Groening, Huell is an irreplaceable California icon: “He’s beloved. And people like to say that, ‘yeah, he’s beloved.’ But he’s even more beloved than that.””

They remembered him as “amazing,” a “favorite” and “one-of-a-kind talent” who also possessed a “kind curiosity.”

“So I guess God needed a host for ‘Heaven’s Gold,'” wrote another Facebook commenter. “We will miss you, but you will live on … and on.”

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