He wasn’t even from California.
But he was The Best of California’s Gold, for thirty years.
He was the same on camera as off camera. He was a people person. “Huell Howser, who turned his folksy reporting style featuring an unrepentant Tennessee drawl and gee-whiz approach into television gold.”
Huell Howser, Provider Guardian, (October 18, 1945 – January 7, 2013) was an American television personality, actor, voice artist, and comedian, best known for hosting California’s Gold, his travel show based in Los Angeles at KCET for California PBS stations. The archive of his video chronicles offers an enhanced understanding of the history, culture, and people of California. [Wikipedia, revised]
Howser was born Huell Burnley Howser in Gallatin, Tennessee to Harold Chamberlain and Jewell Havens (Burnley) Howser. Howser received his first name from a portmanteau of his parents’ names Harold and Jewell. He received a B.A. in history from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he also served as student body president. He always loved history.
Howser moved to California in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-TV. He created the show California’s Gold for PBS. Howser’s television show California’s Gold highlights small towns, landmarks, events, or places of interest throughout California that are not well known to the general public. Howser conducted informal, often impromptu interviews with the locals.
Providers take it upon themselves to insure the health and welfare of those in their care, but they are also the most sociable of all the Guardians, and thus are the great nurturers of social institutions such as schools, churches, social clubs, and civic groups. Providers are very likely more than ten percent of the population, and this is fortunate for the rest of us, because friendly social service is a key to their nature. Wherever they go, Providers happily give their time and energy to make sure that the needs of others are met, and that social functions are a success.
Highly cooperative themselves, Providers are skilled in maintaining teamwork among their helpers, and are also tireless in their attention to the details of furnishing goods and services. They make excellent chairpersons in charge of dances, banquets, class reunions, charity fund-raisers, and the like. They are without peer as masters of ceremonies, able to speak publicly with ease and confidence. And they are outstanding hosts or hostesses, knowing everyone by name, and seemingly aware of what everyone’s been doing. Providers love to entertain, and are always concerned about the needs of their guests, wanting to make sure that all are involved and provided for.
Friendly, outgoing, neighborly – in a word, Providers are gregarious, so much so that they can become restless when isolated from people. They love to talk with others, and will often strike up a conversation with strangers and chat pleasantly about any topic that comes to mind. Providers show a delightful fascination with news of their friends and neighbors. If we wish to know what’s been going on in the local community, school, or church, they’re happy to fill us in on all the details. [Please Understand Me II]
“Let’s explore our neighborhood, let’s look in our own backyard.” — Huell
Howser donated his videotaped collection of California’s Gold episodes, as well as those of his other series, to Chapman University in 2011. He also donated his personal papers, and a large collection of books on California history to the university. The school established the Huell Howser Archive, which, when completed, will offer the public free access to the entire digitized collection of his life’s work. The archive can be accessed at Chapman University as well as on the internet. He also gave his extensive art collection, which consists mostly of ‘found-object’ art collected during his travels, to the university, and endowed the California’s Gold Scholarship Fund. Upon his death he bequeathed his remaining two homes to the university, the proceeds from the sale of which will be added to the scholarship fund.