This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Yamashiro and Pink's Hot Dogs

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Yamashiro"

Yamashiro was created in 1911 as a private residence and is a replica of a magnificent palace located near Kyoto, Japan. During the golden age of Hollywood, Yamashiro was a club for the ultra-exclusive, but now it's now a restaurant.

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Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Harley Girls"

Put on your leather jacket and strap on your helmet for a two-wheeled adventure that's sure to get your heart racing. Huell goes for a weekend ride with the Harley Girls and their Harley Davidson motorcycles. Huell and the ladies take a spin and then stop for lunch, where Huell meets some other interesting weekend rebels.

Hollywood Televsion Theater's 'Steambath'

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

KCET started its life in the middle of Hollywood, at 1313 Vine Street. From that first, humble location, the station began making television. One of the bigger national series that they began shooting over at the Vine Street location was "Hollywood Television Theater." Engineers who worked on those many productions tell the story that at times they had three plays in production on different sound stages. One stage would have the set going up or tearing down and two sets actively shooting. It was non-stop action. When we moved over to our Sunset Boulevard location in the early 70s, one of the first "Hollywood Television Theater" productions that was on the slate to be shot was "Steambath."

The production starred Bill Bixby, who played the character of Tandy. He was well known at that time for his roles in several television shows including, "My Favorite Martian" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." Years later, he went on to play Bruce Banner on "The Incredible Hulk." As the leading female actress, Valerie Perrine played the character of Meredith. Valerie is best known for playing Lex Luthor's girlfriend in the first two "Superman: movies. She started her career as a Vegas showgirl. José Peréz , a prolific actor, who was basically unknown at that time, was cast as the Puerto Rican steambath attendant, who happens to also be God.

I was not employed at KCET at the time this production was shot, but there was no lack of conversation about it when I did arrive almost seven years later.

My favorite story was the fact that they finally had to duct tape that towel onto Valerie Perrine to keep it in place. Every time I would pass one of the production photos in our administration building on Sunset Blvd, I would think about that fact.

The production holds the record as the first show on television to show brief full nudity and if it hadn't been airing on PBS, this would have never happened. Back in those days, the big three network censors were very strict about such things. I think we got the pass, due to the fact that we were an educational station.

On KCET in 1985: 'Penn & Teller Go Public'

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

Penn & Teller, circa 1985"We are just a couple of very eccentric guys who have learned how to do a few cool things."

It was January 1985 when Penn and Teller came to KCET to shoot a show called, "Penn & Teller Go Public." They were basically two unknown magicians whom our station manager, Stephen Kulczycki, happened to see perform in L.A. the previous fall. That is how fast the deal went together. I asked Stephen recently about what he remembered about seeing them and this is what I learned.

[In] late summer/early fall of 1984 my wife and I saw Penn & Teller in a club in Westwood called Dillon's. I went up on stage as the witness to see a close-up performance. Teller ate 100 needles and then swallowed an entire apple. He then swallowed some thread and promptly pulled those 100 sewing needles, now all attached to the thread, out of his mouth. All this occurred 12 inches from my face. It blew my mind. I approached them that night about a simple TV special.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Pita Bread and Lint Art

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Pita Bread"

It all started at Huell's dry cleaner and a sandwich made with pita. He wanted to learn more about this wonderful flatbread, so he visited a pita factory to learn all about the art of making this ancient food. And yes, this delicious adventure ends with a pita-based feast.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Lucky Baldwin Cottage"

Lucky Baldwin was one of the great characters of Southern California history during the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was a pioneer and real estate tycoon who owned the land that would become Arcadia, Monrovia and Baldwin Hills. Huell visits the Queen Anne Cottage at the Los Angeles Arboretum, which was built on his former property in 1885, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more on Lucky Baldwin, check out KCET Departures' profile on him here and a feature on his labor force here.

Remembering Clete Roberts

KCET Newsbeat Photo from More Things That Aren't Here Anymore

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

If you watch KCET often, you may have seen a pair of nostalgia programs we did back in the '90s -- "Things That Aren't Here Anymore" and the follow up "More Things That Aren't Here Anymore". When we air them, we usually air them back to back, and about two hours and 40 minutes into the block comes a segment about Clete Roberts, a man who I mentioned in an earlier post about an experimental aircraft.

In my far-flung past, I worked as a production assistant on "KCET Newsbeat with Clete Roberts," on which Clete, in his last broadcast job, led a team of reporters who went out and taped stories and interviewed people about the issues of the day. We sometimes shot more than one show, and between tapings Clete would sit in the chair by my desk and tell all sorts of stories about a career that I hardly knew anything about. Well, the nostalgia show goes into his career quite a bit and fills in some of those blanks, especially via photos, from Clete's many eras.

He not only worked for us, he worked for KNXT and KTLA with many of the journalists from what I would call the Golden Age of news reporting in Los Angeles. If you have missed this segment, I would highly recommend checking it out when "More Things That Aren't Here Anymore" airs again (check listings here).

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Persian Festival and Hot Peppers

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Fosselman's"

Huell indulges in a summer treat at Fosselman's Ice Cream in Alhambra, a family-owned business that's more than 80 years old and where the founder's grandsons still use the family recipe.

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Vincent Price Art Museum"

Huell visits the Vincent Price Art Museum in East Los Angeles. Price and his wife, Mary Grant Price, donated a total of 9,000 pieces of art from their collection to create this museum featuring Mesoamerican, African, Native American, and European works.

Watch a preview:

The Flying Wing: What Happened to It?

Flying Wing at Udvar-Hazy Center | Photo by Cathy Bower

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

I worked as a production assistant for a news show back in 1982. It was called "KCET Newsbeat with Clete Roberts," and the show would end up being Clete's last one before his death. The man was an "old school" journalist, and he was fascinating to work with. If you are a fan of the show "M*A*S*H," you may remember an episode called "The Interview" in which Clete played the reporter who comes to the 4077 and interviews the different cast members about what their life in Korea was like. In that show he basically played himself, and his career as a war journalist was not a fake.

I would be sitting at my desk at work and he would be sitting in the chair in front of it, waiting for a call from the sound stage that they were ready to tape the next show. He would tell us about his days as a war correspondent during WWII. It was fascinating stuff.

One of the things he did in the late 70's was interview Jack Northrup, shortly before Northrup's death. The show was called "The Flying Wing: What Happened To It?" Back in 1949, Northrup built a plane that was wing-shaped and could fly undetected by radar. But instead of commissioning the plane, the government made the thing "disappear." Northrup had never understood why his plane was not allowed to be produced, and in this show, his final interview, he and Clete discussed this. Watching the show, you could tell that Clete, an airplane enthusiast, was equally baffled about how the Northrup's plane had been relegated to obscurity.

Jack and Clete both passed away within a few years of the taping of this show, and the mystery remained... that is until the B2 Stealth Bomber showed up in the United States' military arsenal. It was wing shaped, could not be seen by radar, and it was a totally new idea.

... Well, not quite.

How KCET Helped Destroy Alderaan

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

I am here to set the record straight on piece of "Star Wars" trivia: If you want to destroy Alderaan, Princess Leia's home planet, the person you would want to call was our longtime KCET engineer, the late Cal Slater.

Cal was one of two technical directors that we had in the 70s, 80s and 90s, so he worked on many KCET productions over the years, including "Hollywood Television Theater," "Visions," "Cosmos," "The Merry Widow," and even "Penn and Teller Go Public." (Of course, countless pledge drives and news shows were shot throughout the decades, too.) Not a single one of those shows ended up being the thing he was most famous for, however. As much as he worked all those productions, his biggest claim to fame came from the fact that he was in the right place at the right time.

This Week on 'Visiting With Huell Howser' -- Woodworkers and Epilepsy

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Find out what classic episodes of "Visiting" are airing on KCET this week! Read more about KCET's Huell-centric programming here and share your memories of Huell with other fans here.

Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Low Riders"

Huell spends the day at the Los Angeles Super Show, one of the largest low rider car shows in the world. We see some amazing cars and speak with the artists who created them as well as with their owne

Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Amir's Garden"

Once barren, but now planted with trees and shrubs, Amir's Garden in Griffith Park is an oasis. Huell visits and learns about the garden and the devotion of its creator.

Cosmos: A Look at the Old, on the Eve of the New

Carl Sagan on The Spaceship of the Imagination - Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, 1980

KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

"Cosmos," the new Fox TV series, is in the news these days. Neil DeGrasse Tyson will be hosting it, and it will be airing on Fox starting Sunday, March 9. It is a remake of the Carl Sagan show that was made by KCET back in 1980.

Made back in the late '70s and aired on PBS in September 1980, it was the most watched public television show when it aired nationally, until the Ken Burns documentary series "The Civil War" eclipsed it when it aired in 1990.

The original "Cosmos" was shot in a hybrid style: The remote segments were captured on film at locations around the world. That film was then transferred at KCET to one-inch tape, via a Rank Cintel. The interiors were mastered on one-inch tape.

The most dramatic of these studio segments was the incredible "Spaceship of the Imagination" (pictured above), in which scientist and host Carl Sagan showed us places and things that we would never have seen any other way. The set for the segment was built on Stage B, our largest sound-stage in our former East Hollywood studio. It reached from floor to ceiling and with dramatic lighting and the spaceship's "window," cutting edge at the time of its airing.

Yes, people made fun of Carl with his "billions and billions" quote, (which he never said), but they stayed and they watched and they learned.