Relive Huell Howser’s Legacy

For more than two decades public television personality Huell Howser chronicled the strange and wonderful things that make California unique. Howser died in 2013, but his legacy lives on.

Howser’s folksy delivery and genuine enthusiasm for everything from the bottom of Death Valley to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge made him the ideal guide to California’s backroads and untold stories. His keen eye for a story and ability to organize and direct a documentary with just a two-person team was also a major part of his success.

Howser served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked on the staff of U.S. Senator Howard Baker, before beginning a career in television in his native Tennessee. Howser moved to New York to report for CBS, then to Los Angeles, where he left the national network for the local public television station, KCET, and become the producer of “Videolog,” a short-subject series focused on culture and current events in Los Angeles and adjacent communities.

“California’s Gold” debuted in 1991. The magazine series that explored every aspect of the Golden State would become a lifelong passion for Howser. He retired a year before his death from cancer at age 67.

The series ran for 24 seasons and was spun off into related shows, showcasing California’s parks, coast, missions, highways and byways, as well as Los Angeles life and culture and the Palm Springs desert and community where Howser lived.

While Howser’s approach to the show was once described as “magnificently unslick” by L.A. Times columnist Howard Rosenberg, it was also no-nonsense, precise and incredibly efficient.

This reporter met Howser in 2000, when he was filming an episode at a Glendale store that specialized in harps and harp music. Howser demonstrated his Marine Corps training, as well as his skills as director, cinematographer, and news reporter, arranging musical instruments and people for the best camera angles, then quickly and effectively interviewing his subjects. The entire process took just a couple of hours but captured an engaging portrait of the people and place.

In 2009, Howser filmed an episode of his show, “California’s Golden Parks,” at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“I was lucky to have been Huell’s on-camera host and ‘til this day it has left a lasting memory I will not soon forget,” non-retired ranger Mike Malone told the Messenger Mountain News. “Especially getting to know him in a way most people wouldn’t ever experience. He was truly a good man.”

Malone, who is a passionate film historian and has spent years researching and identifying the films and TV series shot at the ranch, walked Howser through the park’s Western film set and shared its colorful evolution.

Thanks to the California’s Gold exhibit and Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University, Howser will be returning—at least in spirit—to Paramount Ranch on May 12. The event will feature a walk led by Malone retracing the documentary-maker’s trip through the park, and conclude with a free screening of the episode, courtesy of the university.

“I will meet the visitors just outside the western town and begin with the story of how the visit came to be,” Malone said. “Then I will take everyone along the same path I walked with Huell as he filmed the episode for his “California’s Golden Parks.” I will then bring everyone back to the barn in the western town where we’ll show the episode.”

Malone will be hosting two talks: the first at 10 a.m. and repeating at 2 p.m. The event is free.


For more information contact the NPS at (805) 370-2301.

For more information on Howser, visit the website for the Huell Howser archives at Chapman Univerity:


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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