Viewing the Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University

If you live in California, chances are you’ve heard of Huell Howser. With his many PBS shows (particularly California’s Gold) he traveled far and wide throughout our state highlighting the amazing people, places, and things it houses. He played a significant role in my life. I watched his show voraciously and used it as my personal travel guide for the area. If I hadn’t watched I wouldn’t be the explorer I am today. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Howser before his untimely passing in 2013 and I can attest that he was just as friendly as he appeared on TV.

huell howser

Upon his passing Huell Howser donated his archive to Chapman University in Orange. On Saturday, the archive along with the permanent exhibit “That’s Amazing! Thirty Years of Huell Howser and California’s Gold” opened to the public.

I knew it was a can’t miss even so my family and I arrived bright and early Saturday morning. Even so we waited in line for about an hour before we could see the exhibit. It was nice to see there are still so many admirers of his.

The Huell Howser Archives and exhibit are located on the lower floor of the Leatherby Library on the Chapman University campus. It’s fairly small but packed with much information about Huell’s life and career.

Huell Hoswer Archives

There was a timeline of his life on the wall and I came across some interesting facts. Did you know his first name is a combination of his parent’s names – Harold and Jewell? Or that in one of his early broadcasting jobs he interviewed many celebrities and notable figures including the fabulous Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn?

huell, dolly, loretta

You’ll also find a replica of his office and some of his personal memorabilia.

Huell Hower officehuell howser memorabiliamemorabilia

And then there’s the archives themselves complete with a welcoming seating area for those who wish to study them.

Huell Howser archive

Awe, there’s one of his signature shirts!

As much as I loved visiting the exhibit I must admit it was bittersweet as it wouldn’t exist if Huell were still with us. I’m sad he’s gone but happy that his archives went to a good home and are available for all to see. He may be gone but his legacy lives on. Just as it should.

4 Comments

  1. Jilleen March 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Great article! Thanks for sharing. I will add your blog post to my pinterest board too. FB and Twitter already loves you. 🙂

    1. mk1005 April 1, 2014 at 3:36 am

      Thank you!

  2. Viewing the Ralph L. Tomlinson Antique Toy Collection - La Explorer April 15, 2014 at 6:00 am

    […] I was at Chapman University to view the Huell Howser Archives. They’re located in the Leatherby Libraries which turn out to have a treasure trove of […]

  3. Greg Carroll July 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    My first video/TV exposure to Huell was not through the Videologs and KCET, or CBS.

    I’m a retired SCE employee. Out of Steam Generation/Power Supply and Alamitos Generating Station in Long Beach. The latter is where I finally ended up in the early 80s after moving around the system for nearly 15 years. It was Edison’s desire on an attempted, more or less monthly basis, to gather crews and have safety meetings and/or various presentations concerning company matters and updates. Included in these meetings in the 80s, could be an in house corporate video presentation, I believe may have been called Horizons, showing what was happening here and there within the company. (Memory is not as sharp on the Horizons title boilerplating – as it may have been back then the name of the company’s monthly newsletter magazine.)

    Anyway occasionally leading the charge and conducting these video presentations, such as say a transmission tower construction being done out in the desert. Was none other than our beloved Huell Howser. There was more than one such SCE production that I remember being done by him, and it was indeed fun to watch him go. Vintage early Huell. Maybe a little more restrained but still you could see the joy. Seems I remember him actually and for a while, being a semi regular on this venue and I always looked for him to be a part of it. However I was soon watching him regularly on PBS TV and telling friends and anyone who would listen that I had already seen him elsewhere. I think I was considered alien being during this period by the looks received.

    Maybe he was freelancing off of, or more likely shortly before the CBS and/or KCET Videolog endeavors? I certainly don’t know/can’t say.

    If the Huell library et.al. doesn’t have these early efforts, then maybe SCE/EIX does. However in that regard I fear not. As I have had opportunity in the past to rub up against Edison’s communication department in several attempts to retrieve past company videos to construction video presentation for/during SCE Diamond Club meetings. My experience was dismal and completely unproductive. I very much got the feeling that any video tape from any past company production – was long gone.

    But maybe not. If anybody gets this and has fire in the belly, I would urge making contact with SCE. But I would suggest you go as far up the food chain as possible. And otherwise along the way – expecting messy is always in order.

    It is a thought I have to pass along that perhaps Huell did not, in some way, enjoy this relatively short relationship with SCE. And as such it is never mentioned or remembered.

    Anyway – happy trails and good luck. Greg

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