Howser’s genius was his enthusiasm for life, zest for adventure and his ability to connect with people.
It didn’t matter if he was interviewing someone for his “California’s Gold” PBS television series or if you were watching the show from your living-room couch, you felt the connection.
Howser was corny, yes. But he was real. And, in a time of slick television often shaped by market research and technology. it was refreshing to see a man and his microphone searching California’s nooks and crannies for regular folks and interesting stories.
Who couldn’t relate to Huell?
He admitted he was out of breath climbing stairs to a lighthouse. He got spooked while kayaking through coastal caves. He was a big, strong Tennessee-born Marine who loved life and people, as well as California’s natural and man-made wonders.
For a Baby Boomer like me, “California’s Gold” rekindled memories of simpler times. Watching the show was like taking a family vacation in the 1960s — the kids all packed into a car, and Dad telling us what sights to watch for.
Comedians made fun of Howser. I did, too, especially his habit of repeating information gleaned from a person into the very next question.
But imitating Howser and his dawdling interviews was, as they say, a form of flattery and expression of our approval.
He worked his way into our hearts one episode and mile at a time, all the while teaching us about California, its places and its people.
All together now, let’s honor him by saying, “That’s amazing!”