In the first week of January, California lost a beloved local figure. Huell Howser was a celebrated broadcaster for local television, and he was best known for his series “California’s Gold.” He even made a few trips to our very own Old Towne Orange area to showcase our historic restaurants/shops/etc., and he was closely tied to Chapman University. Chapman University is planning an open house to showcase all that Huell Howser has done over the years not just for the University but for all of us as well!
This event – “A Golden Legacy: Celebrating the California’s Gold Collections and Scholarship Fund and the Huell Howser Television Archive”– on Friday February 8th is free, and the public is encouraged to attend. I have included most of Chapman’s press release about the event below, so keep reading for more details on what is sure to be a great event honoring Mr. Howser.
The day’s events kick off at 2 p.m. with Chapman President Jim Doti presenting a posthumous honorary doctorate in Huell’s memory (prior to Howser’s death on January 7, the university’s plan had been to present him with an honorary doctorate during this May’s commencement activities). The president will also introduce the university’s first recipient of the California’s Gold Scholarship funded by an endowment from Howser, junior Mayra Gonzalez of Garden Grove. This will be followed by the open house featuring the collections and a meet-the-stars opportunity, a food sampling and the event will conclude with a screening of favorite episodes of “California’s Gold” in Memorial Hall.
The university has invited many of the real-life “stars” and eateries featured on “California’s Gold” to participate in this event. The public can meet the stars and sample the foods at an open house that will also feature free exhibitions of Huell’s show memorabilia, the repurposed “found-art” objects he used to decorate his residences, a full-sized re-creation of his office and much more.
“Huell was very clear that he did not want any kind of memorial service,” said President Doti, “so Chapman has chosen instead to celebrate both his life and his work in a way that I think he would have felt was very appropriate, and to introduce everyone to his collections and our free online archive of his TV shows. And of course we’re inviting the public, because Huell was, above all, a ‘people person’ – he would have adored meeting and talking to everyone who attends.”
Over the past several years, Howser – who “discovered” Chapman University when Doti sent him a handwritten note inviting him to tour the campus – forged a strong bond with the university and made many generous donations, including show memorabilia, papers, two houses, his collection of “found-art” objects – and tapes of all of his more than 900 episodes of “California’s Gold” and associated shows (“Visiting…With Huell Howser,” “California’s Missions,” “California’s Golden Parks” and more). His wish was for the university to digitize the episodes and make them available, free of charge, to the public online. Following a year-long digitization project, Chapman has launched www.HuellHowserArchive.com, where the public can view all of Howser’s shows for free.
Here’s an abbreviated schedule for Friday February 8th:
At 2pm in Memorial Hall:
- Welcome from President Doti,
- Presentation of Huell Howser’s posthumous honorary doctorate,
- Meet the first California’s Gold Scholarship recipient,
- View rare footage of Huell Howser
From 2:30-5pm in the Attallah Piazza:
- Meet the stars of “California’s Gold” including Slater Barron, “The Lint Lady,” Candace Frazee, The Bunny Museum, Carole Anne Kaufman, whistling champ, Luis (“Louie”) Fuerte, Huell’s longtime cameraman, and more.
- Sample foods from some of Huell Howser’s favorite spots including Pink’s Hot Dogs – featuring the Huell Dog, Village Pizzeria, Stan’s Corner Donut Shop, Fosselman’s Ice Cream, and more
- Tour the “California’s Gold” Collection. Inside the Leatherby Library see a re-creation of Huell’s office, enjoy a display of memorabilia and fan gifts from his many travels, and view some of the “found-art” objects he re-purposed into furniture and wall décor. Inside the main lobby of Beckman Hall view more “found-art” objects and see photos of how they were displayed in Huell’s residences.
From 4:30-7pm in Memorial Hall:
- Watch screenings of “California’s Gold” episodes on the big screen. (As Huell wished, ALL episodes of “California’s Gold” have been digitized by Chapman University and are available for viewing, free of charge, at www.HuellHowserArchive.com)
Chapman University hopes the public will join them in celebrating this public figure’s life and work.