UPDATED: Huell Howser Dead at 67

The famous Coachella Valley resident died this morning, according to Riverside County officials.

Longtime Southern California television host Huell Howser, who used his folksy interviewing style to introduce viewers to little- known Golden State locales and the state's unique residents, died today at age 67.

Howser, a native Tennessean with twang to match, died in Palm Springs at 2:35 a.m. of natural causes, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office.

Howser, who retired from KCET in November, was best known for hosting the series "California's Gold," which ran for 19 years on PBS stations, including KCET in Southern California.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of Huell's passing," according to a statement by KCET President/CEO Al Jerome. "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 ... 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."

Did you know Huell or enjoy watching him? Tell us about it in the comments.

Howser, often lampooned for his accent and wide-eyed wonder at roadside attractions, became so well known while hosting "California's Gold" that his character was incorporated into two episodes of "The Simpsons."

Howser started his television career at WSM in Nashville after working for U.S. Sen. Howard Baker and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. The University of Tennessee graduate whose unusual first name is a combination of his parents' -- Harold and Jewell -- became a well-known television personality in Nashville for his human interest stories.

He later hosted a magazine-style series at WCBS in New York City before moving to Los Angeles in 1981 to work for KCBS-TV. He later served a stint as a weekend "Entertainment Tonight" host (1982-83) and eventually joined KCET in 1985.

At KCET, he started "Videolog," short programs featuring people's unique stories. The series later became "California's Gold."

Howser quietly retired from "California's Gold" late last year, amid rumors about his failing health. His assistant, Ryan Morris, told the Los Angeles Times in November that Howser was retiring from filming new shows, saying he "is just trying to get away from television and enjoy some free time."

Howser, who had lived in the El Royale Apartments in Los Angeles, also once owned an unusual Newberry Springs home known as "The Volcano House."

The KCET show "SoCal Connected" plans to air special segment on Howser at 5:30 p.m. tonight, then again at 10 p.m.

Jackalope January 07, 2013 at 09:50 PM
:( Love Huell! Love his shows!
Tony G January 07, 2013 at 10:02 PM
So young...but a good life. I'll miss him.
Elsa Botts January 07, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Loved his shows and loved his voice! California has lost a true gem. Rest In Peace Howell. Elsa B.
Elsa Botts January 07, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Loved his shows and loved his voice! California has lost a true gem. Rest In Peace Huell. Elsa B.
Gary McCloy January 07, 2013 at 10:32 PM
How sad. R.I.P. Huell. I'd see him around P.S. Often-especially at The Estate Sale.He was always cheerful and friendly with the people who approached him. He was a very nice man and we all will miss him.
Albert G January 07, 2013 at 11:00 PM
I was not a hard-core watcher of Huell's programs but I saw enough to realize that he opened the eyes of all Californians as to what exactly we have in this state...all of it pretty terrific. I learned about places I didn't know about and history I didn't know existed. For those reasons alone, I hope someone names a major state park, beach or highway after him.No one promoted California in a more positive way than he did. Personally I think Hwy 101 from L.A. to San Francisco should be dubbed The Huell Howser Commemorative Highway. It seems fitting.
D January 07, 2013 at 11:08 PM
I had the pleasure of spending a day with Huell while we filmed the Windturbines here in Palm Springs, CA for his segment of California's Green. He was colorful, and there wasn't a dull moment furing the entire day of filming. RIP Huell.
tom vito January 07, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Huell, an 24 carat gold original - you will be missed
Monica Comparadise January 07, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Huell seemed to be such a sweet man. His curiosity and enthusiasm carried us all along with him. Visiting California's Golden places was like travelling with a delightful friend. He will be missed. Carol N. Palm Desert
Olivia Ann January 07, 2013 at 11:28 PM
We will miss u Huell Howser ! Thanks for all the great years :) I've seen u a couple times in Hollywood last 2 years walking the streets n looking for more fun places to explore. RIP
Fendi January 08, 2013 at 12:33 AM
A legend Yes highway 1 should be named after him I am so sad Really really sad You are loved forever RIP Huell so grateful to have watched him on television for the last 20+ years He gave such insight Smiles and tears
andrew murray January 08, 2013 at 12:40 AM
During the LA riots Huell was out protecting property near his residence in Hancock Park. A very fine man and he will be missed. Andrew M.
Vernon Joe Otte January 08, 2013 at 12:49 AM
About two years ago my wife and my self were walking down main street in down town Palm Springs Street Fair with some friends and walking next to me was Huell which took me by surprise. ... I said Hey! You look like Huell Howser...He said that be me....He shook my hand and kept on walking....
Benny Stein January 08, 2013 at 12:55 AM
I have lived in California all my life and Huell Howser brought many things to life that I never knew existed. He certainly had a passion for California and all it has to offer. I hope his shows run for a long, long time so that the younger folks have the opportunity to experience some of the great treasures here in California.
arlene wissmann January 08, 2013 at 02:21 AM
He was a true gem of the desert.
beaumontdave January 08, 2013 at 02:41 AM
So long, Huell. You showed me more interesting stuff in Cal. then I could ever hope to see,
beaumontdave January 08, 2013 at 02:50 AM
One thing, Huell had a house in 29 Palms, I rehabbed some houses nearby and you could tell his place by the huge steel plates welded together for a fence, yet they refer to him being a Coachella Valley resident or being from Palm Springs?
LLODOWN January 08, 2013 at 03:37 AM
R.I.P Huell H.
Tom Anderson January 08, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Wait a minute. Are you telling me that Huell Howser is dead? Isn't that something! RIP dear educator and humorist!
John Brady January 08, 2013 at 09:56 AM
My wife and I were shocked to hear about his death. We loved him through his wonderful shows; we will miss him greatly. No one has ever promoted California more enthusiastically than he. I surely hope the state names Route 101 the Huell Howser Memorial Highway.
Cheri January 08, 2013 at 06:21 PM
I remember he did a show from "Ernie's Walk" in Sherman Oaks years and years ago. He told the story of the place with a smile in his voice and a twinkle in his eye. In his private time he guarded his life and was just that, a very private man. He enjoyed his life and lived it well.
J January 08, 2013 at 07:08 PM
AS been said I was shocked when I heard of Huell's passing. His show was one I really looked forward to watching. Hope the state does something to honer a man who truly loved it..Such a remarkable man, RIP Huell..you will be missed!!
@Dale Lucas January 09, 2013 at 05:09 AM
When I think of Huell I have only warm thoughts of a truly wonderful yet simple human being and GREAT adopted Californian. My entire family will miss him and that always HAPPY FACE. I'll think of him every evening when I watch his re-runs. He always managed to brightened the day a bit. HUELL WAS SURELY THE BEST OF CALIFORNIA GOLD IN ALL RESPECTS !
bryce January 10, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Hey! Beaumont-Dave is right! His primary residence WAS in 29 Palms, ...not Palm Springs- Although P.S. was his main stomping grounds. No one even mentioned his appetite for bondage & group sex with Marines from the base at his legendary "work it out weekend" fiestas at his compound! He was from a bygone era & drew much criticism for refusing to 'come out' publicly. He was indeed a great guy, & I enjoyed watching his shows growing up here in So. Cal. (although he talked SO slow while interviewing people!) R.I.P. Huell ! =)
Judy Bolton January 10, 2013 at 04:58 AM
@Bryce, what compelled you to share that information about his private life. He closely guarded his private life and deserves to have that honored after his death. Huell Howser was a beloved and respected TV host in California. Please don't try to darken that image by posting something that he is no longer here to defend. Show some respect! Your comment did nothing for this article.
Pamela January 10, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Huell was indeed a heart-warming, folksy, engaging personna. I met him once - in a restaurant. He was attentive and that says a lot about a 'celebrity' when they are in their 'personal-space' time. He deserves state-wide commemoration for he always polished California's golden image. See you on the Other Side, dear Huell~
bryce January 11, 2013 at 11:11 AM
@judy : oh lighten up, would ya!? -- it wasn't THAT guarded of a secret, nor a bombshell. I respect his privacy completely, ...& as you know, people aren't just "this" or "that", that they are multi-faceted. He was a great guy, ...wholesome almost on t.v. - but also a dirty-bird, ...& I (like many others believe) thought he should have at least come out of the closet (for the greater good). What compelled me to share it, was that not many people even knew he was gay, much less had a thing for Marines. It in no way tatnishes his memory or disrepects him - gimme a break.
Laurie January 11, 2013 at 02:09 PM
For the greater good? Who cares what his sexuality was, and why would exploiting it help anyone? I think it's better to leave personal business just that... personal.
Corey Adam August 29, 2013 at 11:04 PM
The only shame brought on Huell Howser here is those that presume that his personal life was something to be ashamed of. Huell doesn't have a problem, Bryce doesn't have a problem. But it appears that others here may.
John Lyon November 01, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Thanks Mr Howser for your gift.


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