Before going down to Chapman University in the city of Orange to see the new permanent exhibit devoted to the work of the late Huell Howser, LA Times television critic Robert Lloyd googled Howser's name with the word "beloved" and came up with 112,000 hits.
For anyone fond of California's offbeat places and people no explanation is necessary.
The late video reporter and host of public television's "California's Gold" and other programs who died in January, 2013 at age 67 devoted his estate--tapes, papers, artwork, a couple of homes and a good deal of money--to the university.
The result is a public archive--accessible in person at Chapman and online--as well as a permanent library exhibit co-sponsored by the Auto Club of Southern California called, "That's Amazing! Thirty Years of Huell Howser and California's Gold."
About 4,000 people filed in opening day--so many that some had to wait three hours and officials asked that they limit themselves to 20 minutes.
Lloyd's piece recounts how the Howser material came to be at Chapman, through his friendship with university president James L. Doti (pictured), and how shortly before his passing the famously private transplanted Tennessean exhorted, "Please, I don't want some sobby recount of my life."
From the piece:
The money and the profits from the sale of one of the houses went to endow a scholarship, called the California's Gold Scholarship. The other house, a 1968 space-age curiosity nestled atop a small volcano cone in the desert near Barstow, remains in the possession of the school, which will use it as a kind of educational outpost.
Add Huell: For hard-core Howser fans--and are there any other kind?--there's also this 2010 video of Huell crooning his trademark theme song at LA's Musicians Institute.
Image: Mike Boster, Los Angeles Times