LOS ANGELES — Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

LOS ANGELES — Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.

LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California's central coast, his longtime agent Rick Hersh said.

LaLanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.

"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.

He maintained a youthful physique and joked in 2006 that "I can't afford to die. It would wreck my image."

Former "Price is Right" host Bob Barker credited LaLanne's encouragement with helping him to start exercising often.

"He never lost enthusiasm for life and physical fitness," the 87-year-old 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."

LaLanne (pronounced lah-LAYN') credited a sudden interest in fitness with transforming his life as a teen, and he worked tirelessly over the next eight decades to transform others' lives, too.

His workout show was a television staple from the 1950s to the '70s. LaLanne and his dog Happy encouraged kids to wake their mothers and drag them in front of the television set. He developed exercises that used no special equipment, just a chair and a towel.

He also founded a chain of fitness studios that bore his name and in recent years touted the value of raw fruit and vegetables as he helped market a machine called Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer.