Matthew Renda

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January 7, 2013
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Huell Howser, famed PBS host, dies

A popular television host died Monday morning, according to multiple published media reports.

Huell Howser, who gained popularity in California, as the enthusiastic and folksy host of “California’s Gold” — a show broadcast on PBS — died in Riverside County Monday, according to the Press Enterprise, headquartered in Riverside.

Howser, 67, was a resident of Palm Springs, the newspaper reported.

Just six weeks ago, Howser’s staff announced the host was retiring from his television career.

Howser moved to California from Tennessee in 1981 to become a reporter and began chronicling lesser known aspects of California’s history. Howser often interrupted his interview subjects with enthusiastic outbursts like “Oh my gosh!” and “That’s amazing!”

Howser visited the Nevada County Fair in 2010 and dedicated an entire PBS episode to the Smartsville area.

Howser died at his home Sunday night from natural causes, Ayn Allen, corporate communications manager for KCET told the Associated Press. No other details were available.

For years, “California’s Gold” took viewers to many parts of the Golden State with Howser doing folksy, highly enthusiastic interviews and narration in a distinctive twang he brought with him from his native Tennessee.

Howser also appeared in such other series about California as “Visiting with Huell Howser” and “Road Trip with Huell Howser.”

“Huell elevated the simple joys and undiscovered nuggets of living in our great state,” a KCET statement said. “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.”

Howser received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and began his TV career at WSM-TV in Nashville, according to the Huell Howser Productions website. He hosted a magazine-style series at WCBS-TV in New York City and then went to Los Angeles in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-TV.

KCET planned to air a special on Howser Monday night.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call (530) 477-4239.

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The Union Updated Feb 8, 2013 03:55PM Published Jan 9, 2013 06:35AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.