Hundreds Pay Tribute to Huell Howser

Memorial comes the same day it is revealed Howser died of prostate cancer. The host of California's Gold is remembered fondly at Griffith Observatory service.

It was chilly Tuesday afternoon at the Griffith Observatory even as the sun shone bright.

But  memories of a legendary broadcaster warmed a crowd of several hundred as they waited for 5:07 p.m. and the sunset salute that would honor KCET's Huell Howser.

It occurred the same afternoon that TMZ first reported that Howser's official death certificate showed his official cause of death as "prostate cancer."

The tribute emphasized Howser's significance as an educator and a community builder—as well as his impact on the small businesses and locations he profiled.

Al Jerome, CEO of KCET, the public television station that co-produced much of Howser's programming, said it would be hard to replace Howser. He also joked that he had already been asked many times about it.

Jerome fondly recalled the time he saw Howser completely disarm a 55-year-old man at Echo Park Lake distraught over a job loss.

"He immediately recognized what was going on and brought his tone down," Jerome said.  "He was such a professional. One in a million can do that on camera and not have to edit."

Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, first met Howser as he prepared a segment on the Watts Towers. "He didn't really report on stories," she said. "His way of telling the stories was to ask questions and react to the answers."

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, perhaps jokingly, called for a high school named in Howser's honor, with mascots dubbed "the Historians."

Others who spoke about Howser from the podium included historian Charles Phoenix and Capri Maddox, a commissioner for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

After the speakers concluded, LaBonge led the crowd in a sing-a-long of "California Here I Come."

Then guests lingered for about 20 minutes waiting for the sun to duck below the horizon in what LaBonge dubbed a "California salute."

Those who braved the cold and parking issues included a contingent from the Los Angeles Conservancy's "Moderns."

Regina O'Brien, a television art director and Silver Lake resident who heads the group, said Howser was a frequent guest at the group's event and showed a unique ability to engage with all kinds of people.

Howser's family had said they did not want a public or private event to honor Howser.

A group is now circulating a petition that would honor Howser with a statue at the Observatory.

Add your own memories of Huell Howser in the comments below, and check back later for video clips from the memorial.

djschristensen3 January 16, 2013 at 06:57 AM
Huell was California Gold!
Gary January 16, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Sharon Thompson January 16, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Though I am a 3rd generation native of southern California, much of what I know about my homestate I learned from Huell Howser. He has been a regular "visitor" in our home and taken us on many wonderful chairside trips. Huell inspired us to see what is truly in our own backyard. He will be greatly missed - let's hope PSB will continue to show the reruns as a reminder of this wonderful man who became an icon of the Golden State. To his family and friends I pray for your peace and comfort in the memories of this dear man.
Whophantom January 16, 2013 at 07:42 PM
He was such a brave man knowing what he was going thru keeping it to himself. He didn't ask for sympathy but, received attributes for what he give us....knowledge. He was such a likeable man and he lived his life loving it. Vaya Con Dios Amigo.
Janet Whitcomb January 17, 2013 at 04:12 AM
Attention Howser fans! You may enjoy this 3 1/2 minute Infomania video, produced about three years ago, called "The Happiest Man on TV." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQL90RNlq7M


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