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Rudy Boesch, famous for competing in the inaugural season of the long-running hit CBS reality competition “Survivor”, died on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Va. at the age of 91 from Alzheimer’s disease.
In that first season from 2000, the then-72 year old Boesch was part of the legendary four-person alliance that included eventual winner Richard Hatch, runner-up Kelly Wiglesworth and fourth-place finisher Sue Hawk. Boesch participated in every challenge all the way until the finale but he ultimately placed third.
Upon applying to be on “Survivor,” Boesch said “I read an article and it had the word challenge… I didn’t know anything about the money, but I was going to do it anyway.”
“I figure they had 15 fouled-up people and they needed one normal one,” he added. “That was me.”
Boesch was most notable for his cantankerous but lovable persona, memorably referring to his close friendship with Hatch as “not in a homosexual way.” Shortly after the news of Boesch’s passing, Hatch remembered him on Twitter, stating:
Boesch returned to compete on “Survivor All-Stars” in 2004 but was the second castaway ousted that season. To-date, he remains as the oldest castaway to ever participate on the show.
In 2002, Boesch was also host of the USA Network military competition “Combat Missions” which was produced by “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett.
Prior to his stint on “Survivor”, Boesch enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II in 1945. He was chosen as one of the first Navy SEALS in 1962. He completed two combat deployments during the Vietnam War, earning the Bronze Star for heroic action. He retired from the Navy in 1990.
Boesch’s wife Marjorie Thomas passed away at age 76 in 2008. The two were married for 53 years and shared three children.
He is the sixth former castaway from “Survivor” to be deceased, preceded by Jenn Lyon (2010), B.B. Anderson (2013), Caleb Bankston (2014), Dan Kay (2016) and Ashley Massaro (May 2019).