Dressed in a polo shirt and sunglasses and armed with a microphone and an enthusiastic “okay,” Huell Howser managed to make Los Angeles feel so wholesome. Huell—because it just feels right referring to him by his first name—covered more corners of California in a few decades of broadcasting than most of us will in an entire lifetime. His shows, most notably California’s Gold and Visiting with Huell Howser, are filled with drawn-out takes and equally long handshakes, but that only adds to their endearing charm. The late host had an uncanny ability to make old railroad cars and farm equipment feel like Disneyland rides. Above all, he could stick his microphone in anyone’s face and get them to gush about why they loved a hot dog or an entire city so much.
Huell would’ve turned 70 on Sunday, and watching through old episodes can be a melancholy reminder that you'll never run into him at Galco’s or Pink's. But the hundreds of videos he left behind are an uplifting collection of California's gold—in particular these five about Los Angeles.