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UPDATE: Huell Howser dies at 67

Posted: January 7, 2013 6:10 p.m.
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:10 p.m.

In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, city councilwoman Laurene Weste meets television personality Huell Howser at the Silents Under the Stars fundraiser at Hart Hall in Newhall. (Signal File Photo)

 

UPDATES WITH DETAILS AND LOCAL CONNECTIONS

 

Huell Howser, known to Santa Clarita Valley audiences for featuring SCV landmarks Beal’s Cut and the William S. Hart Park and Museum on his television program “California’s Gold,” has died at age 67.

Howser also visited the SCV in 2009 to attend the popular fundraiser Silents Under the Stars to benefit the Friends of Hart Park.

“I’m a big fan of the William S. Hart Mansion and Museum and Hart Park,” said Howser at the event. “I’ve been wanting to come to this event for a couple of years, and now I finally have the chance. I think it’s going to be a great evening.”

Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste said it was an honor to have Howser feature a segment on William S. Hart Park and the museum.

“We were thrilled to have him come to Hart Park,” she said. Weste is also president of Friends of Hart Park.

“One of the things that made me laugh about Huell was that he was so fascinated with historical things that he had to touch them,” she said.

Howser’s “California’s Gold” has been seen throughout the United States, said Weste.

“Because of Huell people have seen Hart Park and the museum all over the country,” she said. “It was a real tribute to Bill Hart for Huell to bring him back to life and have America see that.”

Weste described Howser’s death as “a great loss. He was a man who was so full of life.”

Howser died at his home Sunday night from natural causes, said Ayn Allen, corporate communications manager for KCET, which aired his program. No other details were available.

For years, “California’s Gold” took viewers to many parts of the Golden State, with Howser doing folksy, highly enthusiastic interviews and narration in a distinctive twang he brought with him from his native Tennessee.
He also appeared in such other series about California as “Visiting with Huell Howser” and “Road Trip with Huell Howser.”

In November, Howser quietly announced his retirement from television, to be effective at the end of last year.

“Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state,” a KCET statement said. “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.”

Howser received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and began his TV career at WSM-TV in Nashville, according to the Huell Howser Productions website. He hosted a magazine-style series at WCBS-TV in New York City and then went to Los Angeles in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-TV.

In 1987, he moved to KCET to produce a program called “Videolog,” the predecessor to “California’s Gold.”

Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

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