Howser, the host of programs like "California's Gold," "Visiting," "Road Trip" and other PBS favorites, was known for his down-home demeanor and contagious enthusiasm ("Would you look at that!") for the subjects he covered, which ranged from well-known California travel destinations to obscure roadside attractions and intriguing everyday people.
"He was a wonderful man with real generosity — he kept alive a sense of the drama, beauty and poetry of California," Kevin Starr, a USC history professor who formerly served as California's state librarian, recalled to The Times. "His sense of the state was incredible, positioning it as a place for everybody. Not just the elite, but for ranchers, farmers, workers. He showed truck-stop restaurants. Huell had an extraordinarily inclusive, democratic view of all things California. He emphasized the eccentricities, but never sacrificed showing the ordinary, simple side."
Today at 1 p.m., Times columnist Patt Morrison, TV critic Robert Lloyd and OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano will discuss Howser's career and legacy in a live video discussion.
Read Lloyd's and Arellano's remembrances, Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds' appreciation of Howser as a travel journalist and watch video of some of Howser's best TV moments. Years' worth of his work has been digitized and archived by Chapman University and is available for free viewing at Chapman's website.