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California TV Icon Huell Howser Dies

The longtime host of "California's Gold" passed away from reported natural causes. He was 67.

Huell Howser, the folksy Tennessee transplant who chronicled California history, people, places and culture for over two decades with his PBS TV shows such as "Visiting ..." and "California's Gold," has died after a long undisclosed illness.

His assistant, Ryan Morris, told radio station KPCC that the longtime host died at home of natural causes. He was believed to have been seriously ill, and in November, he announced his retirement and donated his large library of shows, as well as his Palm Springs-area home, to Champan University in Orange.

Tribute messages are pouring in to Howser's Facebook page.

His shows continue to air on PBS station KCET. The station released this statement:

"We are deeply saddened by the news of Huell's passing. This is a tremendous personal and professional loss to his friends and colleagues, as well as his legions of fans. Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state. He made the magnificence and power of nature seem accessible by bringing it into our living rooms. Most importantly, he reminded us to find the magic and wonderment in our lives every day. Huell was able to brilliantly capture the wonder in obscurity. From pastrami sandwiches and artwork woven from lint to the exoticism of cactus gardens and the splendor of Yosemite — he brought us the magic, the humor and poignancy of our region. We will miss him very much."

Howser was 67 years old.

Howser clips abound on the Internet, but we could only find one Laguna Beach-specific spot, a brief one shot at West Street Beach, where Huell introduces the world to skimboarding. Click the video icon above for the clip.

Howser did shoot an entire show on Laguna Beach in 2008, though, in which he spotlighted Las Brisas, the Nix Nature Center, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, the Main Beach lifeguard tower, the Orange Inn and the Laguna Art Museum, among others.

Do you have a favorite Huell Howser moment? Did you ever meet him in person? Tell us your story in the comments below ...

April Josephson January 07, 2013 at 11:18 PM
I am so sorry to hear of this. Huell Howser was everyone's neighbor and friend. He introduced us to many new things, and another side to things we already knew. I saw both of the Laguna Beach shows, and was proud to have had him showcase both of my hometowns. Before moving to Laguna Beach when I was in High School, I was raised in often overlooked Tujunga. Huell did a show there too.
Leah Vasquez January 08, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Huell , iconic guide through California's Gold and Green , frequent visitor to Laguna where we first met met at Ron's restaurant, before French 75. Years later after "The Lint Lady," a special on my friend and artist, Slater Barron, we met again in her charming Long Beach home where many UCI's Studio Art alums gather. We spoke of who will be remembered and yes, Huell, we'll remember you and all you shared with so many; you are forever California's gold.
Danielle January 09, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Huell was such a pleasure to watch on TV. He was very enthusiastic about everything and everyone he met, which made people sometimes laugh, but in a good way. You could tell that he is truly interested about the people he was interviewing. Everything to him was a wonder. I loved his southern drawl and loved his outlook on life. The world needs more people like him. Huell, we are going to miss you.

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