Even though more than 600 castaways have played the game of “Survivor” over the past two decades, fans have never forgotten B.B. Andersen. This original cast member from the iconic first season was the second person voted off the island when he was 64 years old. After the show wrapped, B.B. lived for another 13 years until his death at age 77 from brain cancer. (He’s one of six dead “Survivor” castaways — see photos above.) Let’s all raise a torch to the late B.B. Andersen, who was voted out of “Survivor: Borneo” 20 years ago this week.
When he first set foot on the island of Pulau Tiga, Malaysia, B.B. was a fish out of water in terms of his social game. He found himself on the Pagong tribe along with much younger people with whom he shared little in common: Ramona Gray, Joel Klug, Gretchen Cordy, Greg Buis, Jenna Lewis, Gervase Peterson and Colleen Haskell.
B.B. took the mantle of being the shelter-maker at camp after he saw his fellow tribe mates as wanting to goof off. When Gretchen tried to get B.B. to take a break from being in the hot sun, he brushed her off because the shelter was more important than his health.
At the first-ever “Survivor” challenge, a torch-lighting obstacle course, B.B. helped his tribe win reward and immunity so they were spared from having to go to tribal council. Instead, the Tagi group made the long journey to tribal where they voted off Sonja Christopher, still the oldest woman to ever play.
In the second episode of “Survivor: Borneo,” which aired June 7, 2000, B.B. shocked Gretchen when he brought up the idea of throwing the immunity challenge in order to “lighten the load” at camp. “I’m not gonna quit, but if I can engineer an escape route for myself and do it right, do it ethically and do it correctly, then sure I’ll do it,” he said in a confessional (watch below).
Needless to say, B.B.’s fellow Pagong campers weren’t on board with throwing the challenge. “The name of the game is to stay together as long as you can … to survive … we want to win,” they declared in no uncertain terms. B.B. ended up getting his wish at the next challenge when Tagi prevailed, sending Pagong to their first tribal council.
The votes mostly went according to B.B.’s plan, with his name being written down six times (Colleen, Gervase, Jenna, Gretchen, Joel and Ramona). The other two voted for Ramona (B.B. and Greg), but it wasn’t enough to send her packing. Jeff Probst snuffed B.B.’s torch, and the rest is “Survivor” history.