Huell Howser, the long-running host of the public-television travel show "California's Gold," died Sunday of natural causes, television station KCET told TheWrap on Monday. He was 67.
Howser had retired from filming new shows in November.
"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," a spokeswoman for KCET told TheWrap in a statement. "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."
Mel Rogers, president and CEO of PBS SoCal, reflected that "It's a sad day for public broadcasting in California."
Howser, whose shows also included "California's Golden Parks" and "California's Missions," was known for his unpretentious style as he uncovered lesser-known facets of the Southern California landscape, as well as his constant sense of amazement in the face of his subject matter.
The latter occasionally made him a source of parody. The "There's Something About Marrying" episode of "The Simpsons" featured a TV host named Howell Huser who, literally, falls off of a turnip truck. Howser himself would later would provide the voice for another "Simpsons" episode, "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?"
A native of Tennessee, Howser served in the U.S. Marine Corps. and on the staff of a U.S. Senator before launching his television career on Nashville station WSM-TV. Howser moved to Los Angeles in 1981 to become a reporter for KCBS and joined KCET, then a PBS affiliate, in 1987 to produce "Videolog," which profiled people from various walks of life.