Longtime California public television host Huell Howser has died at age 67. His assistant confirmed to NPR member station KPCC that Howser died on Sunday at his home.
The host of popular programs such as "California's Gold" and "California's Golden Parks" was known for his folksy, unpretentious style, while visiting historic and scenic sites across the state.
His signature phrases, such as "that's amazing," earned him fame even beyond public television audiences, including a guest appearance on the animated series "The Simpsons" in 2005.
Last November, Howser announced his retirement from the production of new shows. In 2011, Howser announced his intention to donate his personal archive, including all of his programs to Orange County based Chapman University.
In 1999, the Riverside Press-Enterprise interviewed Howser:
"The greatest compliment I get is when people come up to me and say, `I can't believe my wife and me watched a whole show on kelp,' " said the 49-year-old Howser, a tall, muscular man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts.
The show features Howser and the always unseen cameraman, Luis Fuerte, exploring some nook or cranny of California.
Howser is unfailingly good-humored, wildly enthusiastic about what he's seeing, and never shy about approaching strangers to ask questions.
All of it is done in his strong Tennessee accent and an approachable style that seems to put people at ease.
"That's one of the mysteries to me, how I escaped the cynicism," Howser says.
The show, which is shot 12 times a year and owned by Howser, is unscripted and unrehearsed.
"We go there and let it happen. We don't know what's coming," Howser said.