California TV Hero-Enthusiast Huell Howser, RIP



Sad news for Californians, as conveyed by OC Weekly Editor Gustavo Arellano:

Huell Howser–a California broadcasting legend for his various shows that have appeared on public broadcasting over the past couple of decades–has passed away, according to sources who spoke to the Weekly on condition of anonymity.

Howser, the longtime cornball gee-whillickers purveyor of large-microphoned homages to California's historical and cultural quirks, had retired in a shroud of mystery a couple of months back, triggering this perceptive if perhaps over-thought appreciation from fellow California one-of-a-kind, D.J. Waldie:

Howser—Tennessee-born, drawling elongated vowels, bursting with enthusiasms—chose not to leave. He has never, despite playing the part on television, been genuinely one of the "folks." For one, he's better off than most of them, thanks to his business skill and a natural parsimony. He's also fiercely unprejudiced. But the melancholy behind his fierce public niceness, the cheer that was supposed to make up for the regrets of the transplanted, still binds him to the "folks." And it was in their service that he went everywhere in California and embraced every quirk of local circumstance, all the while delivering warm gusts of wonderment that were only partially synthetic. He showed them the California that they had dreamed of—completely harmless but always interesting. He wanted them to fall in love with their state. If only they had loved California as much as he needed to.

Go to YouTube to see Huell in all of his glory. It is no disrespect to his great work to say that this is still my favorite Huell Howser vid: