HOWSER, Huell (1945-2013), Tennessee-born American television personality best known for his California's Gold series, a human interest show. Howser was fascinated by the islands and traveled to most of them, producing shows depicting the islands' history, culture and people. The only California Channel Island he missed is San Clemente Island.
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.
Howser filmed his California's Gold series until November 2012. He died less than two months later. Howser died at age 67 of prostate cancer on January 7, 2013. His ashes were scattered off the coast of Los Angeles County.
Luis Fuerte, Huell's cameraman for 12 years (1989-2000), filmed many of the California Islands episodes, up until he retired in 2004. Fuerte wrote a book about their adventures.
- [HOWSER, Huell] Fuerte, Luis. Louie, Take a Look at This! My Time with Huell Howser. California's Gold. Altadena: (Park Press Books). (2017). First edition.
- [original in SCIF archives]
SAN MIGUEL ISLAND
SAN NICOLAS ISLAND
SANTA BARBARA ISLAND
SANTA CATALINA ISLAND
- #709 Huell Howser ~ Camel and (Catalina) Island Bison ~ 1996]
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
SANTA ROSA ISLAND
In the News~
1994. "One that stands out is the show from Santa Barbara Island. I was shooting Huell as he walked on a narrow trail perched on the edge of a cliff that plunged hundreds of feet down to the ocean. There I was, hoisting a very heavy camera while trying to keep Huell in the shot and watching where my own feet were going, thinking about what a slip would mean... One of the most arduous and trying shots for me was the one we did on Santa Barbara Island. The challenge was that you can only go up or down on the island, and either way, it's not an easy journey. I had just turned fifty-three, and it was our fourth year together. We were hiking on a steep trail that pitched up sharply from the beach, and Huell, who was in his physical prime, was interviewing a park ranger who was pretty young and fit as well. The two men kept up a brisk pace on that slope, perhaps engaged in an unspoken competition to see who was the fittest and who'd be the first to need a break. Huell was absorbed in doing one of his long-form interviews, and the camera and I became invisible to him. I just couldn't keep up, and finally I shouted for them to stop for a bit because I was so tired. But I had a job to do, so I sucked it up and caught up with (and passed) them at a good pace to set up for an approach shot. That sure showed them. Oh man, I was so beat by the end of the day—it felt as if I'd been run over by a truck.” [Fuente, Luis Louie, Take a Look at This! My Time with Huell Howser (2017), p. 64, 76]
January 9, 2013 [The Desert Sun]: “PALM SPRINGS — Huell Howser spent the last two months of his life in his own private paradise — his home in Palm Springs, where he lingered for long, tranquil hours by his pool. Howser, 67, host of the KCET public television series “California’s Gold,” died early Monday morning after battling cancer for two years, said longtime Howser producer Ryan Morris. Howser made his final journey to the desert in November. “When he knew he was really sick and the end was near we jumped in the car and got him to Palm Springs as fast as possible,” said Morris. “He was very happy once he was there.” Morris said Howser loved Tyler’s Burgers, Moorten Botanical Garden and Smoke Tree Ranch. “He loved Palm Springs more than anywhere in the world,” Morris said. “He’s been all over, he’s seen everything. The only place he really felt comfortable was Palm Springs.” “He liked to come here to have lunch with us,” said Tracy Conrad, chief operating officer at Smoke Tree Ranch, a private enclave of homes tucked just south of East Palm Canyon Drive near Sunrise Way. Howser, a very private person, did not disclose the type of cancer he was battling to Morris. “He wanted to keep it private,” Morris said. It had originally been reported that Howser died in Los Angeles and Morris blames himself for all the confusion. “I wanted to prevent people from going out and disturbing the house in Palm Springs,” he said. It was Howser’s wish not to have a memorial service, and Morris said friends and family are abiding by his request. Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge is organizing an informal public gathering at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Griffith Park, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Morris talked about how much his friend looked forward to coming out to the desert on the weekends. “He had an apartment in Los Angeles and worked very hard during the week. He was always in a hurry on Fridays after work to jump in his car and drive out to Palm Springs.” On Mondays, Morris would sit in the office at Huell Howser Productions in L.A. and wonder if his boss was going to show up that day — or turn his trip into a long weekend. “He’d usually end up coming back to work on Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said, laughing. Howser took his last extended trip in August. His destination was the Grand Canyon — one of the few places he’d yet to visit. He got as far as Hoover Dam. “He never made it to the Grand Canyon,” Morris said.”