Huell Howser won't be there (except, perhaps, in spirit), but the "stars" the host-producer interviewed at restaurants, landmarks and other interesting California places have been invited to attend when Chapman University in Orange opens its Huell Howser collections to the public Friday. Like the viewing of his various television programs, "A Golden Legacy: Celebrating the California's Gold Collections and Scholarship Fund and the Huell Howser Television Archive," is free to attend.
The event begins at 2 p.m. Friday in Memorial Hall, where Chapman President Jim Doti presenting a posthumous honorary doctorate in Huell's memory, as the university had planned to bestow the honor during May's commencement activities. Later, Doti will introduce junior Mayra Gonzalez of Garden Grove, the university's first recipient of the California's Gold Scholarship funded by an endowment from Howser.
The action moves from 2:30-5 p.m. to the outdoor Attallah Piazza, where California's Gold "stars" Slater Barron ("The Lint Lady"), Candace Frazee (The Bunny Museum), Carole Anne Kaufman (whistling champ), Joe Rinaudo (collector of early movie music machines), Dali Yu (The Soap Kitchen) and Luis Fuerte (Huell's longtime cameraman "Louie") are among those scheduled to attend.
The open house also features food served from some of the places the longtime broadcaster visited on air. Among them: Pink's Hot Dogs in Los Angeles (home of the "Huell Dog"), Village Pizzeria in LA, Stan's Corner Donut Shop in Westwood and Fosselman's Ice Cream in Alhambra.
Also from 2:30-5 p.m., tours of the California's Gold Collection will be held in Leatherby Libraries, where there will be a re-creation of Howser's office, a display of memorabilia and fan gifts from his many travels and some of the "found-art" objects he re-purposed into furniture and wall décor. More "found-art" and photos are on view in Beckman Hall.
From 4:30-7 p.m., favorite California's Gold episodes will be screened on a big screen in Memorial Hall. Chapman has every episode available for viewing, free of charge, at www.HuellHowserArchive.com.
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In a university statement, Howser's friend Doti explains the thinking behind the open house: "Huell was very clear that he did not want any kind of memorial service, so Chapman has chosen instead to celebrate both his life and his work in a way that I think he would have felt was very appropriate, and to introduce everyone to his collections and our free online archive of his TV shows. And of course we're inviting the public, because Huell was, above all, a 'people person'--he would have adored meeting and talking to everyone who attends."
Howser only "discovered" Chapman after Doti called him to gently complain the broadcaster should have visited the nearby university when he shot a show in the historical Orange Circle. Howser became so smitten with the place he donated all his shows, documents and more to the university.
To find Chapman University, punch One University Drive, Orange, into your GPS or Google Maps. You can also call 714.997.6589 or visit www.chapman.edu/events/huell-howser.aspx for more information.