LOS ANGELES – Jack LaLanne was prodding Americans to get off their couches and into the gym decades before it was cool. And he was still pumping iron and pushing fruits and vegetables decades past most Americans' retirement age.
The fitness fanatic ate well and exercised — and made it his mission to make sure everyone did the same — right up to the end at age 96, friends and family said.
LaLanne died Sunday at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, longtime agent Rick Hersh said. The cause was respiratory failure due to pneumonia.
"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, LaLanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
Lalanne, who had heart valve surgery two years ago, maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."
"He was amazing," said 87-year-old former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker, who credited LaLanne's encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.
"He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness," Barker told The Associated Press on Sunday. "I saw him in about 2007 and he still looked remarkably good. He still looked like the same enthusiastic guy that he always was."
By ANDREW DALTON