Rudy Boesch, one of the best-known contestants in the history of Survivor, has died after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
He was 91 years old.
Boesch, a breakout star during Survivor's very first season, was a former Navy Seal.
He was cast back in 2000 at the age of 72, finishing the season in third place and quickly became a fan favorite due to his lovably cantankerous persona.
Tweeted Rudy's ally from that memorable run on the series, after learning of his death:
“Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy! You and I helped open minds and undermine predjudces [sic]. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!"
Rudy served in Vietnam and earned the Bronze Star Medal for heroic action.
He retired from the military in 1990, a decade before becoming the oldest player to ever compete on Survivor.
That first season, of course, was such a huge hit that CBS has since ordered 37 more.
After the debut season of Survivor, Rudy made an encore on Survivor: All-Stars in 2004.
Boesch married Marjorie Thomas in 1955, and they had three kids. They remained married for 53 years, until her death in 2008.
During season 1, Boesch’s closest friend was Hatch, the openly gay corporate trainer who ultimately won the show.
It was an unexpected alliance... to say the least.
“Rudy Boesch and I both served our country in the military: he in the Navy, and I in the Army,” Hatch told People Magazine, adding:
“But Rudy also served our country as an example of honesty and open-mindedness by respectfully engaging and aligning with me, an openly homosexual man, to play Survivor on the world stage.”
Survivor: All Stars contestant Rob Cesternino also recalled his friendship with Boesch to People.
This is what he said:
Rudy was my roommate for weeks on our trip to Argentina after we both were voted out during Survivor: All-Stars.
I would hang on his every word because he was would tell and re-tell all these amazing stories with his unique combination of brutal honesty and a razor-sharp wit.
I’ve never met anybody who could ever make me laugh as much as Rudy.
Funeral arrangements for Boesch have not yet been announced.
He's the latest ex-Survivor star to pass away, following Jenn Lyon, who placed fourth on Survivor: Palau, who died in 2010 after a six-year battle with breast cancer.
Original Survivor contestant BB Andersen passed away of brain cancer in 2013 at age 77.
In 2014, 26-year-old Blood vs. Water contestant Caleb Bankston was killed in a railway accident.
Survivor Gabon contestant Dan Kay died in 2017.
And Survivor: China’s Ashley Massaro died of suicide earlier this year.