‘Survivor’ contestant Rudy Boesch dead at 91: Jeff Probst calls him a ‘legend’ and a ‘true American hero’

Leave it to Jeff Probst, four-time Emmy-winning host of CBS’s “Survivor,” to perfectly state how the show’s fans are feeling after Rudy Boesch‘s death was announced this weekend. “The ‘Survivor’ family has lost a legend,” Probst tweeted about the fan-favorite contestant who died following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. “Rudy Boesch passed at the age of 91. He played in the first season of ‘Survivor’ at the age of 72. He is one is the most iconic and adored players of all time. And he served our country as a 45-year Navy SEAL. Rudy is a true American hero.”

Boesch is now the fifth “Survivor” contestant to die in the two decades since the reality TV show premiered on May 31, 2000. In our “Survivor” deaths photo gallery below, we take a moment to remember all of those we’ve lost, including Boesch’s “Borneo” cast mate B.B. Andersen. May their torches live on forever in our hearts.

In the show’s iconic first season, Boesch lucked into an alliance early on with fellow Tagi tribe members Richard Hatch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Susan Hawk. The unlikely group became a dominant force as the 39 days progressed and all four of them made it to the finale, which was watched by more than 50 million fans. Hatch ended up winning the $1 million prize by one vote over Wiglesworth. Boesch placed third and Hawk came in fourth.

Throughout his time in Borneo, Boesch was known for his take-no-prisoners attitude and his conservative viewpoints. The fact that he became best buddies with the openly gay Hatch, although “not in a homosexual way,” was one of the highlights of that raw first season. “Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy!” Hatch tweeted on Saturday. “You and I helped open minds and undermine prejudices. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!”

Boesch returned to “Survivor” in the “All Stars” eighth season at age 75, where he was the second person voted out. Boesch’s wife Marjorie Thomas died in 2008. They are survived by their three kids.

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