Discovery channel's 'Gold Rush' star 'Dakota' Fred Hurt dead at 80 following brain cancer battle

July 14, 2023
Ben Marquis

A famous reality TV star who has entertained audiences with his daring exploits over the past decade has unfortunately perished.

"Dakota" Fred Hurt, a star of the Discovery channel's original "Gold Rush" series and several spinoffs, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80 following a brief battle with brain cancer, Fox News reported.

According to the dates of his birth and death, as revealed by his family, Hurt died just one day after his 80th birthday.

Family announces death following courageous "battle against cancer"

A Facebook post on Tuesday evening announced, "'Dakota' Fred Hurt passed away this morning surrounded by family. He fought courageously in his battle against cancer. Fred touched many lives and was loved and supported by many."

"If you feel inclined to donate on Fred’s behalf, please consider donating to the Mike Rowe Works Foundation in Fred’s honor. Having worked in skilled labor for the majority of his career, Fred was passionate about teaching others these valuable skills," the message continued.

The post included a link for donations to Hurt's preferred charitable foundation and added, "Please note that this is the only donation request from Fred’s family."

"Heartfelt condolences" extended by "Gold Rush" family

The death of Hurt was also announced on Wednesday by the official Twitter account of the "Gold Rush" program on Discovery, and stated, "The Gold Rush family is deeply saddened to learn of Fred Hurt's passing."

"His joy for life and adventure was contagious. We share our heartfelt condolences with his family, friends, and all who loved him," the tweet added.

Diagnosed with brain cancer in March

It was just over four months earlier that a press release in March announced that Hurt had been "hit with a bolt from the blue" with a surprise diagnosis of Stage 4 brain cancer.

"Fred Hurt is a man of adventure, thrill of the hunt, and exploration. He's a role model to many, especially seniors, with his active lifestyle, endurance, and thrill-seeking attitude that rivals' men and women less than half his age. He has adoring fans throughout the world. His zest for life, contagious smile, and blunt approach are all part of his massive appeal," the release noted. "Over the past ten years, he has been featured on reality tv in pursuit of gold. Some of his recent gold adventures have been in Alaska diving for gold in dangerous whitewater."

The announcement noted that Hurt had recently begun producing "several film projects," that he greatly appreciated his fans, that he was exploring a "range of options for possible treatment," and that he remained in "good spirits" despite the grim diagnosis.

A Discovery Channel star

In a statement at that time, Hurt said, "I've lived a full 80 years of an interesting life. If I emerge from this dark diagnosis, I'll have another adventure to share with you folks."

Deadline reported that Hurt began his career as a gold prospector in North Dakota, hence the nickname, and became a national figure after starring in the first four seasons of Discovery's original "Gold Rush" series. He would go on to also appear in spinoffs like "Gold Rush: South America" and "Gold Rush: The Legend of Porcupine Creek," and just this year had concluded a five-year run of "Gold Rush: White Water" that starred him and his son Dustin prospecting for gold under Alaskan waterfalls.

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