I guess people from California are more likely to have heard of him since he was California TV Personality.
California TV Personality Huell Howser Dead at Age 67
Plan a Road Trip in Huell's honor. In southern California there are great parts of Route 66, Hwy 101 and Old Hwy 395.
I don't know that he was openly gay. There was no mention of this on his official site, or the wiki entry on him. I saw a few internet claims by anonymous people who said he was gay. My "gaydar" pinged a bit when I saw him, but since he chose to be private about who and how he loved, I respect his privacy and did not give that much more thought. I hope that whoever he shared his life with brought him much happiness and fulfillment, just as he enriched many people by documenting and sharing his road trip adventures.
Yeah, that's a valid good point, as "openly gay" was perhaps overstating it (in that he never made any big media announcement of it or the like, and was content to live in a "glass closet", as was his right). Huell emerged in an era and part of the country much less tolerant of homosexuality than today (a Tennessee boy, who served in the USMC and became a newscaster), and reasonably didn't want his orientation to overshadow or cloud his work: people discriminate.
That stated, personally knowing a few who work in the L.A. entertainment industry (where he was based) who ARE gay, it's long been accepted and known within the local gay community. The first video on this page shows the NBC LA news broadcast of his death announcement, featuring an interview with openly gay KPCC radio host, John Rabe (and most LA viewers who know who them already know the unstated message):
But again, to let that overshadow his life's accompishments would be undermining that which he wanted everyone to focus on: the ideas he presented, and not him (Huell was the antihesis of a "star", instead shunning fame). As a communicator, he didn't want his personal life to ecclipse his work (which actually IS the goal of those seeking acceptance of groups: a world where it isn't even an issue).
@ Blondie: REmember when PBS was our only variety to regular local channel programming? :-) Everybody wants to learn and see about where they live, and Huell was just great at it. It warms my heart to see so many people loved him and the show, as I saw on Facebook yesterday. I mean it was just a little PBS show, with Huell and the cameraman "Louie." Even here at work people were reminiscing about the show.
What a nice legacy he left. BTW, I have a friend at Chapman, a young gal, and she said he left the archives to the universtiy. I hope they let the shows still run. It's nice to know they are in good hands.
@designs: Good idea...lord knows there are plenty of places to see!! I think I remember him doing a show about the ranunclus fields down south.
@ Mrs J: Makes me want to look up the shows and watch them all over again...sniff
Nice video - I had never heard of him before, but just by viewing it I can see why people liked him.
All that's reported is that he died of "natural causes". Vague. Falling off a three story bldg. is a "natural cause" of death.
Anyway, I'd like to know because I'm the same age.
Dagney- Huell did a really cool show on the old road over the Grape Vine. There is a car club that takes care of it and they had the old guys and their cars out for a run.
I've lived in California most of my life, but I had not heard of him. Sad he died so young.
Yeah, Lisa, he would not be familiar to those who don't watch PBS, as that's the network over which his show was broadcast. I wonder if his death will broaden his audience even wider? His shows are available on DVDs, which should be easy to locate on the net.
Interesting comments, which I totally agree with: I learned more about towns and places in CA from watching his show than from visiting, or even LIVING in the towns. Of course, he'd get special access to sites not available to just any average citizen (like the trip to the top of the pyramid of the Transamerica Building in SF: it was funny, as you could feel the slightly uneasy fear of heights that he was feeling. Or the tunnel under Lake Arrowhead, that even many locals aren't aware of its existence).
MAN! Soooo many great episodes, and what a life truly well-spent.