Gustavo Arellano at the OC Weekly reported late this morning that California television icon Huell Howser has died. Arellano based his story on sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. A few minutes later, KPCC "Off-Ramp" host John Rabe tweeted that Howser's assistant confirmed that he died last night at home. Howser, recently believed to be seriously ill, last November acknowledged through his staff that he was retired from television and had donated his shows, and home in the desert, to Chapman University in Orange County. Howser was 67 years old.
* First update: KCET says it will present a tribute to Howser tonight during "SoCal Connected," which airs at 5:30 p.m. Howser and his most popular show, "California's Gold," had a long-time home at KCET until last year. The shows continue to air on the station.
Statement from KCET:
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.
The initial surge of interest in Howser's death knocked LA Observed off-line for about 45 minutes. I apologize for the interruption.
Statement from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
I'm saddened to hear of the death of my friend Huell Howser, a Los Angeles treasure and California icon.
Although he was originally from Tennessee, Huell loved California more than most natives. His long-running television program, California's Gold, shared with audiences the best our state has to offer. Huell would travel anywhere to show viewers the beauty and variety of the Golden State, from its most famous landmarks to the least known sights. And his boundless enthusiasm and curiosity was infectious, making us all see these places with the same amazement he did.
His death is a loss that will be felt throughout Los Angeles and California. He will be greatly missed.
KCET's website has put up a memories page for readers to post their comments about Howser.
Previously on LA Observed:
Howser feared retirement back in 2003
Well would you look at this: Huell Howser to retire *
Huell and Rabe meet up
Huell Howser sings a song
Can you spot Huell Howser
Huell goes inside the In-N-Out empire
Huell Howser tripping, the video
Huell Howser meets citizen journalism
Ralph Story, 86