Since its debut in 2000, hundreds of castaways have played the game of “Survivor.” While many have been injured on CBS’s reality TV show, no one has ever died during filming. Sadly, several former players have passed away since leaving the island. In our “Survivor” deaths photo gallery above, we take a moment to remember all of the people who we’ve lost over the years, including most recently Keith Nale, Roger Sexton, Dan Lembo and Clay Jordan. Their torches will live on forever in our hearts.
Keith Nale (‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’ and ‘Survivor: Cambodia’)
August 16, 1960 – April 18, 2023
This two-time fan favorite who placed fourth in “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” and fifth in “Survivor: Cambodia” died of cancer in 2023 at age 62. Keith’s son Wes, who also competed on the show, declared on social media, “He passed away this afternoon. He’d been battling cancer for the past few months and we found out about it in January.”
Roger Sexton (‘Survivor: The Amazon’)
September 26, 1946 – October 26, 2022
Roger lost his long battle with Lewy Body Dementia at age 76. He competed during Season 6, the first-ever male vs. female edition, which aired on CBS in 2003. After a tribe swap, Roger ended up being eliminated on Day 21 when the girls of his new tribe suspected he would never vote for a woman to win.
Dan Lembo (‘Survivor: Nicaragua’)
October 7, 1946 – September 3, 2022
Dan passed away at age 75, though a cause of death was not released. He lasted 37 out of 39 days on the island during Season 21 in 2010, making it all the way to fifth place. Prior to competing on CBS’s reality TV show, Dan was a millionaire real estate executive who proclaimed in his pre-show interview, “I’ve been a Survivor my entire life and thrive on beating everyone else.” At the final tribal council, he voted for Jud “Fabio” Birza to win the million dollar prize.
Clay Jordan (‘Survivor: Thailand’)
December 30, 1955 – May 19, 2022
Clay passed away at age 66 of a short illness. He came in second place to Brian Heidik in the show’s fifth season, which took place in Ko Tarutao, Thailand. One of his claims to fame was winning the individual immunity challenge that required the castaways to match Thai numbers with the numbers in English. His daughter Shanda announced his unfortunate passing.
Ralph Kiser (‘Survivor: Redemption Island’)
October 27, 1965 – April 20, 2022
Ralph died of a heart attack at age 56. His brother made the announcement to “Survivor” influencer Michael Allbright shortly after he was pronounced dead. On the 22nd season, Ralph was part of the plan to get rid of Russell Hantz early in the game. One of Ralph’s best moments was finding a hidden immunity idol, though he later wasted it by using it on a tribe member (Mike Chiesl) who didn’t receive any votes. Ralph made it all the way to ninth place, being voted out on Day 30.
Sunday Burquest (‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’)
February 6, 1971 – April 18, 2021
Sunday passed away of esophageal and ovarian cancer at the age of 50, after first being diagnosed with the disease in 2020. She previously survived breast cancer in 2012. Sunday joined the “Survivor” family in the 33rd season as the oldest woman on the hard-working Gen X tribe. This Minnesota youth pastor made it all the way to Day 35 in Fiji, which is when the alliance of Adam Klein, Hannah Shapiro, Ken McNickle and David Wright voted her out. When she became a member of the jury, Sunday was one of the 10 people who voted unanimously to give Adam the $1 million check.
Angie Jakusz (‘Survivor: Palau’)
March 27, 1980 – January 8, 2021
“Survivor” contestant Cassandra Anne “Angie” Jakusz died at age 40 after a three-year battle with cancer. The New Orleans native rose to fame in 2005 by starring on “Survivor: Palau,” the reality TV show’s 10th season on CBS. Angie was almost voted out in the first episode because she was seen as a weak link in the challenge, but Jolanda Jones received more votes at tribal council. She rebounded in the second episode by being solely responsible for winning the fishing gear reward for her Ulong tribe. Angie didn’t have her name written down again until the fifth episode, when she and Bobby Jon Drinkard tied at two votes apiece; she was sent home on a re-vote.
Cliff Robinson (‘Survivor: Cagayan’)
December 16, 1966 – August 29, 2020
The first-ever pro-basketball player to appear on the CBS reality TV show died at the age of 53 of lymphoma. Cliff previously suffered a brain hemorrhage in March of 2017. He had an 18-year career in the NBA, including most notably for the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2014, he participated in the 28th season, “Survivor: Cagayan — Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn.” The Buffalo, N.Y., native was part of the “Brawn” tribe and the towering athlete tried to keep his identity a secret. He was the fifth person voted out of the game.
Rudy Boesch (“Survivor: Borneo” and “Survivor: All-Stars”)
Jan. 20, 1928 – Nov. 1, 2019
In the show’s iconic first season, at the age of 72 Rudy 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, with all four of them making it to the finale. Richard ended up winning the $1 million prize by one vote over Kelly. Rudy placed third and Sue came in fourth. Rudy returned in “Survivor: All Stars” when he was 75, where he was the second person voted out. Rudy passed away in 2019 at age 91 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ashley Massaro (“Survivor: China”)
May 26, 1979 – May 16, 2019
Ashley was voted out unanimously in the second episode of Season 15 after her Zhan Hu tribe mates saw her and Dave Cruser as causing too much conflict at camp. This professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment was a true fish out of water on the show as she’d never been camping a day in her life. In 2019 Ashley reportedly committed suicide just 10 days before her 40th birthday.
SEE ‘Survivor’ Winners List (All Seasons)
Dan Kay (“Survivor: Gabon”)
Jun. 30, 1976 – Dec. 31, 2016
Dan finished in 11th place on the 17th season of “Survivor,” shortly before the merge and one shy of making the jury. His downfall in the game was tied to a tribal switch and a double tribal council that left him without safety on a tribe made up of a majority of people from the opposite original tribe. Dan passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2016 at the age of 40.
Caleb Bankston (“Survivor: Blood vs. Water”)
Mar. 26, 1987 – Jun. 24, 2014
As the fiance of “One World” contestant Colton Cumbie, Caleb competed in the show’s first “Blood vs. Water” season featuring players with ties to one another. Caleb made it much farther than Colton, who quit in the third episode, placing eighth. On the show the couple was noteworthy for their polar opposite demeanors with Caleb being the less dramatic of the two. Caleb passed away in 2014 at the age of 27 in an accidental derailment while working at the Alabama Warrior Railway.
B.B. Andersen (“Survivor: Borneo”)
Jan. 18, 1936 – Oct. 29, 2013
B.B. was the second player eliminated from the breakout first season of “Survivor” in 2000. At the age of 64, he was the second oldest player in Borneo, but also one of the most abrasive. One of the contributing factors to his elimination was saying that he wouldn’t mind if he was voted out, making him an easy first pick for his tribe. B.B. passed away in 2013 after a battle with brain cancer.
Jenn Lyon (‘Survivor: Palau’)
Feb. 27, 1972 – Jan. 19, 2010
Jenn finished fourth place on the 10th season in the show’s first fire-making tiebreaker. She and eventual champion Tom Westman voted for Ian Rosenberger while Ian and Katie Gallagher voted for Jenn. In the tiebreaker, Ian was first to build a successful fire and Jenn was eliminated. Jenn was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2005, shortly after her season of the show aired. She survived cancer for five years and was involved in numerous charities and foundations in support of cancer education, research and awareness before passing away in 2010 when a recurrence of her cancer metastasized to the bone.
-Obituary text by Marcus James Dixon, John Benutty and Susan Wloszczyna
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