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L.A. TV Icon Huell Howser Has Died

Photo by Joits via Flickr
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Legendary local TV star Huell Howser has died. Howser was 67.

The Tennessee native quietly retired late last year, prompting widespread speculation his health was in jeopardy.

Details of Howser's death remain largely unknown, though his passing has been confirmed:

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KCET later confirmed Howser's passing:

Howser died in Palm Springs at 2:35 a.m. Monday of natural causes, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office, according to City News Service.

Howser first came to Los Angeles in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-2, where he did small local color features as part of his on-air duties. He did a brief stint on "Entertainment Tonight" in the early 1980s, then moved to the then-PBS station KCET, where he began work on his most well-known show, "California's Gold," which took a closer look at people and places that made the state unique.

But it was Howser's uniqueness that made the show a wild success, thanks to the gangly host's genuine enthusiasm for his subjects, and the show's easy going production values.

Howser stayed on board at KCET after the channel severed its ties with PBS. Despite being a quintessential Californian media icon, Howser was known outside his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, and even got to play himself on a 2009 episode of "The Simpsons."

UPDATE 1:40 P.M.: KCET has issued a statement reflecting on the loss of Howser:

"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."

More Huell Howser:
Midnight Movie: Trippin' with Huell Howser
Where's Huell? Mapping Howser's California Gold
Midday Music Break: Look Out California, Huell's A-comin'!
California's FM Gold: Huell Howser As Guest DJ On KCRW
A SoCal Food Lover's Tribute To Huell Howser Retiring