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California public TV icon Huell Howser dead at 67

By Greg Botelho and David Daniel, CNN
updated 11:45 AM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
Huell Howser hosted a number of travel series on California television.
Huell Howser hosted a number of travel series on California television.
  • Huell Howser grew up in Tennessee and worked there and in New York
  • He came to California in the 1980s and became known for his travelogues
  • Fans are remembering him as "amazing," a "favorite" and "one of a kind"

(CNN) -- California public television icon Huell Howser has died, his longtime station said Monday, an announcement that set off a flood of heartfelt condolences from his fans in the Golden State and beyond.

He was 67.

The Tennessee native quietly retired in late November after 25 years in which he became a household name in his adopted state as host of "California's Gold" and other televised travelogues on KCET. He died Sunday night at his home in the Los Angeles area, said Ryan Morris of Huell Howser Productions.

"Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state," KCET said in a statement. "... Most importantly, he reminded us to find the magic and wonderment in our lives every day."

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Howser grew up in Tennessee, graduated from the University of Tennessee, worked on a U.S. senator's staff and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to a biography posted on his company website. He then launched his television career at WSM in Nashville.

He moved on to a job hosting a magazine-style TV series at WCBS in New York before landing in Los Angeles in 1981 as a reporter for KCBS.

Six years later, Howser joined forces with KCET, a public television station, to produce a program known as "Videolog" showcasing the stories of all types of people.

That led to "California's Gold" and six other series about life in the Golden State, including "Visiting with Huell Howser," "Road Trip with Huell Howser," "California's Golden Parks," "California's Green," "California's Water" and "Downtown." In addition to California, his shows could be seen in Oregon, Nevada and Tennessee.

Less than 20 minutes after KCET posted news of Howser's death on its Facebook page, more than 150 fans had posted responses mourning his loss and remembering his impact on California and their lives.

They remembered him as "amazing," a "favorite" and "one-of-a-kind talent" who also possessed a "kind curiosity."

One man said that news of Howser's death "brought tears to my eyes like I lost a friend," and another remarked that "Sunday evenings will not be the same."

"So I guess God needed a host for 'Heaven's Gold,'" wrote another Facebook commenter. "We will miss you, but you will live on ... and on."

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