Huell Howser, star of the public TV series California's Gold, passed away Jan. 6, less than two weeks after he officially retired from TV production.
Howser reported for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and Entertainment Tonight before joining public television. His series, a travelogue exploring California, aired for 18 seasons. It was produced at Los Angeles's KCET and distributed to public TV stations in California, Oregon and Nevada. Howser donated the program's entire archives to Chapman University in Orange, Calif., in Oct. 2011.
His affable, easily amazed persona has been often imitated, perhaps most notoriously on The Simpsons. After being caricatured on one episode, he later appeared as a guest star.
"Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state," KCET said in a statement announcing his passing. "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."