Almost 600 castaways have competed to win Survivor over its 40 seasons. Eight of those contestants have died in the nearly 21 years since Survivor aired its first episode.
Some of these deaths are more tragic than others but they’ll all be missed by Survivor fans.
In this video, we’re going to pay tribute to all the castaways we’ve lost. Be sure to stick around until the end to find out what Survivor’s plans are for the 41st season. The COVID pandemic threw a wrench in the gears for the next group of castaways but Survivor has some interesting plans in place to make the next season something special.
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B.B. Andersen was a castaway in Survivor’s first season, all the way back in the year 2000. He was 64 years old when he competed in the original season, “Survivor: Borneo.”
He passed away in 2013, at the age of 77, after a battle with brain cancer according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.
His obituary paid tribute to his life by saying, “Bigger than life with a heart to match, B.B. had an unmatched zest for life.”
It went on to say, “ A world traveler and avid sportsman, B.B. was a lover of fine cigars, fine wine, close friends, and good political debate.”
His wife Jan, daughter Alexandra, and sons Mark, John, Todd, and Darren were left with many great memories of their husband and father. Join Facts Verse to learn more about All Survivor Contestants Who Have Died (Tragic).
Caleb was a contestant in the 27th season, Survivor: Blood vs. Water. He played the game in 2013 with his partner, Colton Cumbie.
Tragically, Caleb killed only a year later in a train accident at the young age of 27. According to CNN reports at the time, a railway spokesperson said Caleb killed when a coal train derailed in an accident.
A statement from the Federal Railroad Administration stated, “Once completed, our investigation will identify the root cause of the accident, and we will take all appropriate enforcement actions.”
Cumbie and Bankston were planning to marry in October 2014, only four months after the accident. Cumbie told the University of Alabama newspaper, The Crimson White, that “Caleb was my everything.”
Survivor host Jeff Probst released a statement at the time of Caleb’s death that read, “The entire Survivor crew is together in Nicaragua. We are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of Caleb.”
The statement continued, “He was one of the most humble and likeable contestants we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with on the show. A true gentleman. He will missed by so many. We extend out most sincere condolences to his family and to his fiancé, Colton.”
Rudy Boesch set two Survivor records for being the oldest contestant to play the game. First, when he played the first season, Borneo, at 72 years old and again when he returned for the all-stars season at 75.
Rudy dies in November 2019 at 91 years old after dealing with complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. Probst released a statement at the time saying, “The Survivor family has lost a legend. Rudy Boesch passed at the age of 91.”
Probst went on to say that Rudy was one of the most iconic players in the history of the game and was a fan favorite.
Rudy also had the distinction of serving our country as a Navy SEAL, making him a true American hero as well as a small-screen hero.
Cassandra Anne “Angie” Jakusz played in the 10th season, Survivor: Palau. According to a GoFundMe page set up to assist with medical costs, Angie passed away in January 2021 after a courageous battle with a rare form of squamous cell colorectal cancer.
Jakusz took 13th place on “Palau” as a member of the ill-fated Ulong tribe. By the end of the season, that tribe had dwindled down a single member, Stephenie LaGrossa.
Angie is the second castaway from Survivor: Palau that has died in the intervening years. Jenn Lyon died in 2010, which we’ll get to shortly.
Dan Kay was a castaway in season 17, Survivor: Gabon. Kay died at the age of 40 in late 2016.
His girlfriend at the time, Jennifer DiPietro, stated they were not going to release the cause of death but the Brookline, Massachusetts, police department indicated they had no reason to suspect foul play.
Dan was survived by two young children, his daughter Reese and his son Jackson. Shortly after his death, Probst posted on Twitter, “I just heard the very sad news about the sudden loss of Dan Kay of Survivor: Gabon. The Survivor family sends our love to Dan’s family.”
Jenn Lyon was the other contestant from the 10th season of the show, Survivor: Palau, that has passed away. She holds the unfortunate distinction of being the first castaway to pass away.
Jenn died at the age of 37, in 2010, after battling breast cancer for the previous 5 years. She attended a Survivor reunion party just a few weeks before her death that held in honor of the show’s 20th season.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Probst said it was a wonderful night and a poignant farewell.
Probst said, “The Survivor reunion party offered Jenn a great chance to reconnect with so many people from the Survivor family. It was a great night and even though the party was crazy, we arranged a back room, away from the madness, where Jenn could hang out and talk with friends.”
Probst went on to say, “She looked absolutely stunning that night. Certainly, a lot of that is because Jenn was always a beautiful woman, but there was a spirit inside her that night that was palpable. It was clear to me that she knew this was a goodbye.”
Probst indicated that they connected in a way they never did before in the years leading up to her death. They reconnected a couple of years before the reunion and become close.
Lyon shared her highs and lows with Probst, as well as the decisions she and her family had to make about her cancer treatment. She was very open about the scary parts of dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Ashley Massaro was a castaway on season 15, Survivor: China. She was already well-known for her career as a professional wrestler in the WWE when she joined the Survivor cast. Her wrestling debut was in 2005 as part of the WWE Diva Search.
Massaro died in May 2019. The Suffolk County medical examiner did not release the cause of death, citing privacy laws, but sources told TMZ at the time that she died by suicide.
According to reports from CNN, Ashely wanted her brain to be donated to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research after her death. CTE is a result of repeated head injuries and can lead to memory loss, mood swings, rage, and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, it can’t be diagnosed in a living person.
Massaro’s daughter, Alexa, is her only remaining family. She was 18 at the time of her mother’s death.
Cliff Robinson was a former NBA All-Star who played in season 28, Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty (also known as Survivor: Cagayan). Robinson passed away in August 2020 at the age of 53, after a battle with Lymphoma.
He was survived by his mother, sister, three brothers, and six children.
When Robinson died, Probst wrote, “To have Cliff Roberton, an NBA All-Star, play Survivor was a personal highlight for me. And he was one of the classiest people to ever play the game.”
Probst went on to say, “He treated the other cast members and the entire crew with grace and respect. My condolences go out to his family.”
After more than two decades on the air, it’s inevitable that some of the contestants who played Survivor would have passed away. Particularly some of the older castaways from the early seasons, a couple of whom went on to live long lives after their run on the show.
That doesn’t make it any easier to accept for fans of the show though. Especially if one of your favorite players passed away.
But modern technology makes it easy to go back and watch highlights from your favorite seasons so those castaways will never be forgotten. Between streaming services offering older seasons and many fans uploading highlight clips to YouTube, you can revisit those memories whenever the mood strike.
And while the COVID pandemic put Survivor’s plans on hold for a while in 2020, they hope to starting filming season 41 in the Spring of 2021. That would put the premier date sometime in the Fall of 2021 so if all goes well, we’ll have a new cast of players in a few months.
We might see them in a new location too. Every season since 33 has been filmed in Fiji but because Fiji has some strict travel restrictions in place due to COVID, Survivor is looking at alternative locations for its next season. So stay tuned, your next Survivor fix isn’t far off.
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And be sure to leave a comment below to let us know which of the castaways in this video you’ll miss the most.