Over its 40 seasons, “Survivor” has had almost 600 castaways. Ten of them have died. Here is a tribute to those whom the “Survivor” family has lost over the years.
B.B. Andersen was one of the original “Survivor” castaways. He played in season one, “Borneo,” at the age of 64. In 2013, he passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with brain cancer, reported the Kansas City Star.
His obituary described him thusly: “Bigger than life with a heart to match, B.B. had an unmatched zest for life. A world traveler and avid sportsman, B.B. was a lover of fine cigars, fine wine, close friends, and good political debate.”
He was survived by his wife, Jan, daughter, Alexandra, and four sons, Mark, John, Todd, and Darren.
This “Survivor: Blood vs Water” alum played the game with his partner, Colton Cumbie in 2013 at the age of 26. He was killed a year later in a train accident when he was just 27. CNN reported at the time that a railway spokesman told them he was killed in an accident while working on a coal train that derailed.
“Once completed, our investigation will identify the root cause of the accident, and we will take all appropriate enforcement actions,” Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Warren Flatau said.
Cumbie and Bankston’s wedding was to have taken place in October 2014, just four months after Bankston was killed. In an interview with the University of Alabama newspaper The Crimson White, Cumbie said, “Caleb was my everything.”
At the time of Bankston’s death, “Survivor” production released a statement via host Jeff Probst that read, “The entire ‘Survivor’ crew is together in Nicaragua. We are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of Caleb. He was one of the most humble and likable contestants we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with on the show. A true gentleman. He will be missed by so many. We extend our most sincere condolences to his family and to his fiancée, Colton.”
This Navy veteran held the distinction of being the oldest person to ever play “Survivor,” a record he set when he played “Borneo” at the age of 72 and then broke when he played all-stars at the age of 75.
He died in November 2019 at the age of 91 from complications with Alzheimer’s Disease. Probst wrote at the time, “The ‘Survivor’ family has lost a legend. 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.”
On April 18, 2021, Burquest died at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer. She was already a breast cancer survivor when she competed on “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” and was incredibly proud of having beaten it. But her cancer came back in the summer of 2020 and was terminal — she was told at the time that she had maybe two years to live. Burquest finished in seventh place on her season of “Survivor.”
After the news broke, Probst took to Instagram to remember the castaway, writing, “Sunday Burquest had one of the brightest smiles of any person to ever play Survivor. She radiated kindness and understanding to anyone lucky enough to be in her presence. She seemed to understand better than most, that life is for living, so say yes to life whenever possible. My condolences go out to her family and friends during this difficult time.”
“Survivor: Palau” alum Cassandra Anne “Angie” Jakusz died in January 2021 at the age of 40 after a battle with “a rare form of squamous cell colorectal cancer,” according to a GoFundMe page set up to help with medical bills.
Jakusz finished in 13th place on “Palau,” a member of the ill-fated Ulong tribe that was dwindled down to just one member, Stephenie LaGrossa. Jakusz is the second “Palau” castaway to pass away; Jenn Lyon died in 2010 after a battle with breast cancer.
In late 2016, Dan Kay, an alum of “Survivor: Gabon,” died at the age of 40. His then-girlfriend Jennifer DePietro told RadarOnline at the time that they were not releasing his cause of death, but the Brookline, Massachusetts, police department said they did not suspect foul play.
Kay left behind two young children, a daughter named Reese and a son named Jackson. Probst wrote 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.”
On April 20, 2022, Ralph Kiser from “Survivor: Redemption Island” died of a heart attack at the age of 56, according to “Survivor” expert Michael Allbright of Wilmington College.
Allbright wrote on Facebook, “Ralph Kiser passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack this morning. His brother Gilbert messaged me this morning to let the ‘Survivor’ community know.”
“Redemption Island” aired in the spring of 2011 and is famous for being the season where Boston Rob Mariano finally won the game. But Kiser, who finished in eighth place, was the lone jury member who actually voted for Phillip Sheppard to win the game.
This “Survivor: Palau” fourth-place finisher was the first member of the “Survivor” family to pass away. She died in 2010 at the age of 37 after a five-year battle with breast cancer.
Just a few weeks before her death, she attended a “Survivor” reunion party thrown in honor of the show’s 20th season. Probst told Entertainment Weekly that it was a wonderful night — and a poignant farewell.
“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. 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,” said Probst.
Probst also said that in the years leading up to her death, he and Lyon really connected in a way they never had before.
“Jenn and I got reconnected a couple of years ago and became very close, very fast. She shared with me the highs and the lows and the constant choices she and her family faced regarding her treatment,” said Probst, adding, “Over the past several weeks we had some beautiful talks about life and death. Jenn was so willing to share what she was feeling, including the very real and very scary parts of dealing with terminal cancer.”
Massaro was a castaway on “Survivor: China,” the 15th season of the show. She was better known for her professional wrestling career in the WWE. She debuted there as part of the WWE Diva Search in 2005.
She died in May 2019. The cause of death was not released by New York’s Suffolk County medical examiner’s office due to privacy laws, according to CNN, but sources told TMZ at the time that Massaro died by suicide via hanging.
According to CNN, following her death, Massaro wanted her brain donated to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research. CTE is a condition that happens after repeated head injuries but cannot be diagnosed in a living person. CTE can cause memory loss, mood swings, rage, and suicidal thoughts.
Massaro was survived by a daughter, Alexa, who was 18 at the time of her mother’s death.
This former NBA star and “Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty” alum died in August 2020 after a battle with Lymphoma. He was 53 years old and was survived by his mother, sister, three brothers, and six children.
Probst wrote of his passing, “To have Cliff Robinson, 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. He treated the other cast members and the entire crew with grace and respect. My condolences go out to his family.”
“Survivor” returns for its 41st season in September 2021 — most likely the 15, 22, or 29.