Jeff Probst is the longtime host of CBS hit reality competition Survivor, but outside of the show, Probst has a family life with wife Lisa Ann Russell. Russell is an actress, who, like Probst, works in the entertainment industry. The couple married on December 5, 2011 at a private Los Angeles residence, according to People. They actually met at Survivor producer Mark Burnett’s holiday party, as Probst revealed to Larry King. Russell attended the party with two friends and ended up meeting her husband. Get to know more about Russell, her first husband, Probst’s past love life and more below.
1. Russell Was Previously Married to Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Russell was married to Mark-Paul Gosselaar prior to meeting Probst and E! reported that Probst told Larry King, “They were together almost 20 years. They had a long marriage and they raised these two young kids. They raised them with the kind of love that the kids they see me, and he’s now remarried, his wife, they just see us as two more parents.” According to Screener TV, Gosselaar had similar things to say, adding that, “I have nothing but nice things to say about my ex-wife and the years that we spent together and I think it’s very important that the kids are around us both equally.”
From Russell’s married to Gosselaar, she has two children – son Michael (born in 2004) and daughter Ava (born in 2006). Probst is the step-father of the two and recently told GQ about how much he misses home when he’s away, shooting Survivor. He said that, “I miss it so much and I’m so happy to be home, it doesn’t matter if the kids are here or not, I literally go, [screams] “I’M HOME! I’M HOME! I’M HOME!” And it feels so good.” Today, Gosselaar is married to Catriona McGinn, with whom he has two children.
2. This Is Probst’s Second Marriage
Just as this is not Russell’s first marriage, it isn’t Probst’s either. He was married to his first wife, psychotherapist Shelley Wright, from 1996 to 2001, according to TODAY. Probst didn’t meet second wife Russell until 2010.
3. Previously, Probst Dated a “Survivor” Contestant
In 2004, after filming from Survivor: Vanuatu ended, Probst reportedly started dating one of the contestants, Julie Berry, according to the Chicago Tribune. Because of Berry’s relationship with Probst, she cannot participate in future seasons of the show. The couple reportedly split in 2008.
Not long after the break up, Probst admitted to USA Today that, “It’s hard to be friends. Maybe it’s too soon. But I definitely fell in love on Survivor. For sure. And wouldn’t change a thing about it.”
4. There Have Been Rumors that Russell Wants Probst to Quit “Survivor”
Radar Online reported over the summer that Probst’s wife allegedly wanted him to quit Survivor. A “source” revealed to Radar that, “Jeff loves his crazy job and the very peaceful home life he goes home to when he’s not shooting, but his wife Lisa wants him home permanently … Now that her kids [and Probst’s stepchildren] are teenagers, Lisa needs his help more than ever now. She says the family doesn’t need the Survivor money and that they’re completely set for life.” Whatever the cases, Probst continues to host the long-running hit series.
5. Probst Is Only Away from His Family Four Months Out of the Year
While Survivor appears to film year-round, looks can be deceiving. Probst revealed to GQ that he actually is only away from home for a few months. He explained that, “The biggest misconception is that I’m gone all the time. And that’s because Survivor is on almost all year round but we shoot the show in very concentrated periods. Each season shoots for 39 days. If you’re there a week early, it’s like 7-8 weeks for each shoot. So over the summer, I’m gone almost four months. But that’s it. Then I’m home.”