A true original, Gold Rush patriarch John Schnabel died at age 96. Schnabel possessed one of the warmest, most jovial faces on television. And why not? If everyone — as Orwell said — has the face they deserve at age 50, then Schnabel had the wise, knowing and humorous countenance he’d earned well into his 90s. Schnabel lived a long life unafraid, and his fearless style was contagious both to those around him and those who just watched him on TV.
Schnabel had triple-bypass surgery when he was 68. Deciding to maintain a rugged, healthy lifestyle afteward, he bought the Gold Nugget Mine in Alaska, where Gold Rush is filmed. He was three years past traditional retirement age when he made that purchase 28 years ago. He lived another lifetime at the mine.