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Huell Howser’s quiet fadeout fans rumors of serious illness*

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The ever-popular host whose retirement went purposely unannounced after 19 years of “California’s Gold” and other PBS shows may be the state’s best-known TV personality about whom remarkably little was known. That’s the impression left from a 2003 Los Angeles magazine profile by Tamar Brott. It includes this excerpt in which the intensely private chronicler of California places and people offered his thoughts on a retirement that he apparently dreaded:

Howser knows that he will have to retire some day, and he fears it. "I'm not sure I could enjoy a sunset as much if I knew I couldn't share it," he says soberly. The thought of walking down the street and seeing something amazing, or meeting some amazing person with an amazing story and not being able to broadcast it, disturbs him. "Seriously" he says, "what I want to do is to be saying 'Good night' and fall over dead in a sand dune and have the credits with the sand blowing over my body and the people at home just going, 'Well, I guess that's Huell's last show.' That is the way I would like to die."

[The LA Times weighs in today on Howser’s retirement, like everyone else, without any word from Huell. The LAT’s Scott Collins says speculation has circulated for weeks among TV industry veterans that Howser is seriously ill and that insiders say he hasn’t been seen at his Los Angeles office in months.]

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