Continuing our review of notable events of 2013, two celebrities with ties to the Morongo Basin died last year. Folksy icon, California television personality, and Twentynine Palms resident Huell Howser, 67, died January 7. The television host chronicled the hidden history of the Golden State in his public television series, “California’s Gold.” A familiar face in Twentynine Palms, where he maintained a residence, Howser was known for his down-home manner and for his trademark phrases, “That’s amazing” and “Oh my gosh!”
On June 6, “America’s Mermaid,” 91-year-old Esther Williams, died in her sleep. Williams, a star of both the swimming pool and the silver screen, was proclaimed Honorary Mayor of Twentynine Palms in 1948. Esther Williams was well-loved in Twentynine Palms and was a frequent visitor and Pioneer Days Grand Marshall. Her brother Dave lived here for many years establishing Williams Plumbing, now Williams Mechanical, as did several of their cousins. Esther Williams and her second husband, Ben Gage, built a home in Yucca Valley. Her niece, Nancy Huntington, is married to Yucca Valley Town Councilman George Huntington.