Rudy Boesch, a former Navy SEAL who became a fan favorite on the inaugural season of Survivor, has died from complications due to Alzheimer’s. He was 91.
Boesch was cast on the reality show in 2000 when he was 71 years old. His lovably crotchety attitude quickly made him a fan favorite. Boesch’s alliance with eventual winner Richard Hatch propelled them both to the Survivor finale and established a new template for reality show strategy. The retired veteran was eventually eliminated in third place, during a finale event that was watched by 51 million people. Boesch was so beloved that he was brought back for Survivor All-Stars, where he was the second contestant out.
Hatch, Boesch’s closest Survivor ally, tweeted out his condolences. “Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy! You and I helped open minds and undermine prejudices. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!”
Ours was an interesting bond, Dear Rudy! You and I helped open minds and undermine predjudces. While your time here has passed, you will remain loved and iconic, dear friend!
— Richard Hatch (@HatchRichard) November 2, 2019
While millions know him for his reality show prowess, his name was recognized among some military historians long before Survivor. Rudy Boesch joined the US Navy in 1945, and became a legend in the special forces community as one of the founding members of the Navy SEALs. His actuibs during the Vietnam War earned him a bronze star. Boesch retired after 45 years of consecutive service with the rank of Command Master Chief.