I will never forget being in awe as a kid in the 70s, watching fitness legend Jack LeLanne on the television.

He was the closest thing to Superman a kid had in the real world. And it gave you hope that if you took care of your body as he advised, you could do all those amazing feats, too.

This was the guy who at age 60 swam, handcuffed and towing a boat, from Alcatraz to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. I couldn't imagine doing that at age 20!!

Jack LeLanne died yesterday at his home in beautiful Morrow Bay, California, at the age of 96.

I felt a real, genuine sadness when my wife informed me of the news. It was as if a friend had died.

It made me remember how lucky I was to have interviewed him on my show a few years back. To this day, he is still one of THE most inspiring guests I have ever talked with.

Not only was he knowledgeable about fitness and good health, he spoke to you like a friend. He even mentioned how I should come down and see him sometime but I naively took that as a friendly gesture on a radio show interview.

I regret now not pursuing that. Not just because we lived only a few hours apart. But because I know now that he REALLY MEANT IT. He was the kind of guy who WOULD open his home to you and extend such an invitation.

He was married to his wife, Elaine LaLanne, for 51 years. FIFTY ONE YEARS.

"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," she said.

What a beautiful comment to be able to make about your spouse. Everyone should feel so lucky as to be able to say that.

I will miss you Jack. And I kick myself for not having met up with you and shared a glass of freshly made fruit juice. We would have had so much to talk about.

My interview with you is something I will always cherish. For even though I never got to shake your hand, I DID get the chance to talk to one of my childhood mentors.

You were--and ARE--a great inspiration. A RARE inspiration. We need more people like you.

My goal of losing 40 pounds by age 40--what I have dubbed 40 by 40--was inspired by people like you who convinced me I could DO it if I put my mind to it.

I'm going to have a carrot juice today in your honor, my friend.