If you don’t know his name, you definitely know the video that made him a star. Paul Vasquez had the rare fortune of spying a “double rainbow” from his house in Yosemite valley — and the video of the phenomena and his awestruck musings about it propelled him to a rare level of viral celebrity. Now, the Modesto Bee reports, Vasquez has died in central California. He was 57 years old.
The cause of death was not immediately clear. On Facebook, Vasquez had posted about not feeling well and said that he had been tested for the coronavirus. The results of those tests were unconfirmed by media reports, but Vasquez wrote healthcare professionals may have identified another ailment before he passed away on Saturday.
Vasquez’s double rainbow was a rare sight, but rarer still was his awestruck reaction, in which the delight and wonderment brought him to tears. This was in 2010, and internet cynicism was in vogue, so Vasquez’s unbridled joy and sincerity were a welcome relief from the online snark. The video was tweeted by Jimmy Kimmel, and the rest was history as Vasquez started showing up on talk shows and in advertisements as his video went on to rack in 47 million views.
Vasquez lived quite a life. He’d been a firefighter in Los Angeles until he opted for a simpler life in a mobile home in Mariposa, close to Yosemite. In 2015, Vasquez told CNN that he liked the solitude of nature and worked as a cannabis grower. But he also enjoyed his notoriety. “You can’t look at a rainbow anymore and not think about me,” he said.