With the death of longtime TV personality Huell Howser on Sunday, California has lost one of its greatest fans.
Howser, 67, made a name for himself traversing the state and highlighting its many treasures for his signature program, “California’s Gold.”
His show covered topics and places as varied as desert sand dunes, an Egyptian museum, Mariachi musicians, and woolly mammoth fossils. The Tennessee native was loved by many and occasionally lampooned for the boundless enthusiasm he exhibited in every episode.
One episode in 1992 focused on the history of horses in the state, which led him to Cal Poly Pomona. His segment on the university’s Arabian horse heritage was ladled with all the folksy charm he was known for. (A copy of the episode was saved by the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library.)
Ten years later, Howser lent his name and time to the university’s fundraising efforts when he emceed “Founders’ Celebration 2002: An Evening Among the Stars,” helping raise more than $400,000.
Howser, long believed to be suffering from an unspecified illness, retired from television in November and spent his remaining days at his home in Palm Springs.
(Photo: Huell Howser serving as master of ceremonies at the Founders’ Celebration 2002 at the Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry, Feb. 21, 2002.)