[UPDATED with Video Links:] Huell Howser Remembered Fondly on KCET and at Chapman
See the update at the end of this post with links to KCET's video tributes and a statement from the station.
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 7, 5:18 P.M.: Having learned of Huell Howser's death, Chapman University has put artifacts the 67-year-old donated to the private Orange institution on display on the Leatherby Libraries' main floor, where an alcove also allows visitors to view video footage of the California broadcasting legend.
Meanwhile, Howser's Los Angeles TV station for years and years before he retired last year is airing a special tribute tonight.
KCET/Channel 28's award-winning SoCal Connected will air a special dedication in memory of Howser, the longtime host of KCET's California's Gold and Visiting with Huell Howser, at 5:30 this evening, with a repeat at 10 p.m.
Al Jerome, president and CEO of KCET, Mary Mazur, the chief operating officer of the former PBS station, Phil Noyes, a producer with Huell Howser Productions, Louis Fuerte, Howser's longtime cameraman (often referred to by the host in the field), and LA historian and author DJ Walde are among those scheduled to appear on camera.
In his final years, Howser donated his life's work to Chapman, including an archive of all his California's Gold episodes, which the university digitized, according to his wishes, and placed online for free public viewing.
"Huell Howser was a beloved California icon, a true original and a truly good man," Chapman University President James L. Doti says in a statement from his office. "It has been a real privilege in these past few years to become his friend and to share in his immense enthusiasm for life and for everything around him. He loved California so very much, and above all he loved people: their life stories, their interests, their passions. And, of course, people adored him with equal intensity."
Huell Howser speaks before a packed Memorial Hall at Chapman in October 2011.
The university, which provides a California's Gold Scholarship through Howser's "generosity and foresight," as Doti put it, also received from the broadcaster his "Volcano House," a Midcentury Modern domed structure that sits atop an ancient cinder-cone volcano located deep in the Mohave Desert. It is being used as a base for study tours and projects by Chapman faculty and students of environmental science, astronomy, film and other disciplines, according to the university.
Among Howser's other donations were "found-object" art he gathered during his travels throughout California.
Doti says that although Chapman already awarded Howser its Presidential Medal in the fall of 2011, there had been plans to award him an honorary doctorate. The doctorate will now be awarded posthumously at Chapman's commencement ceremonies in May.
The university president notes Howser packed the campus Memorial Hall for an address in October 2011 and stayed long after greeting those who came to see him. The TV host "stayed out there, just chatting and signing autographs, and they stayed, until well after 11 p.m. that night," Doti recalls. "It was, as Huell would say, amazing!"
Besides the displays in the library, Chapman has created a digital memorial wall where fans can share thoughts and memories at www.HuellHowserArchives.com. Included are links to California's Gold episodes. The university is accepting donations in Howser's memory for the California's Gold Scholarship or the California's Gold Archive and Collection. Visit that link or call 714.744.7623 for more details.
UPDATE, JAN. 8, 8:56 A.M.: KCET issued this statement on Huell Howser's passing:
We are deeply saddened by the news of Huell's passing. This is a tremendous personal and professional loss to his friends and colleagues, as well as his legions of fans. Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state. He made the magnificence and power of nature seem accessible by bringing it into our living rooms. Most importantly, he reminded us to find the magic and wonderment in our lives every day. Huell was able to brilliantly capture the wonder in obscurity. From pastrami sandwiches and artwork woven from lint to the exoticism of cactus gardens and the splendor of Yosemite--he brought us the magic, the humor and poignancy of our region. We will miss him very much.
If you missed last night's SoCal Connected, which included a special dedication in memory of Howser, you can watch the full episode here: http://www.kcet.org/shows/
Go here for a "Farewell to Huell Howser" segment: http://www.kcet.org/shows/
See the interview with producer Phil Noyes and cameraman Luis Fuerte here: http://www.kcet.org/shows/
KCET says more clips will be available here: www.kcet.org.