'Survivor' contestant Rudy Boesch dies at 91 after battling Alzheimer's disease

Rudy Boesch was one of the oldest contestants on 'Survivor,' competing at age 72.
Rudy Boesch on Survivor All-Stars
"Survivor" contestant Rudy Boesch gained fans around the world when he first appeared on the show in 2000. The reality program would later bring him back for an all-star season.CBS Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images

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/ Source: Today
By Francesca Gariano

Rudy Boesch passed away on Friday night at the age of 91 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Boesch was one of the first contestants to ever appear on the reality show “Survivor.” He was 72 at the time the show aired in 2000. He finished in third place and was a fan favorite of the long-running reality TV show.

After being a beloved contestant during the first season, the show brought him back for season eight when he was 75 for “Survivor: All Stars.”

The cast of the first season of "Survivor" in 2000.Getty Images

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In addition to his late-in-life reality TV appearance, Boesch served in the United States Navy from 1944 to 1990, enlisting when he was only 17. When he retired after 45 years of service, he was ranked as a Master Chief Petty Officer.

Fans of “Survivor,” as well as friends and supporters of Boesch, shared their condolences on Twitter for the late reality show star and retired Navy SEAL.

“A trailblazer and icon in reality television and one of the best characters in Survivor history,” one fan wrote.

Susan Hawk, Rudy Boesch, Richard Hatch and Kelly Wiglesworth at the "Survivor" party at CBS Television City, Los Angeles on August 23, 2000.Getty Images

Another tweeted, “Reality TV as we know it does not exist without Rudy Boesch. He epitomized what so many of us love about unscripted shows - he was real.”

Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of "Survivor," memorably teamed up with Boesch to form one of the show's first alliances. In a tweet, Hatch reflected on the "interesting bond" the two men shared.

Another former “Survivor” contestant Joe Del Campo shared a tweet remembering his friend.

"It is with profound sadness I report my friend, Rudy (Boesch), passed away Friday, after a valiant struggle, with Alzheimer’s disease,” he wrote. “Rudy served 45 years as a Navy SEAL. Oldest cast member (72) Survivor, Seasons 1 (75) and “All-Stars. RIP, Rudy! I’m gonna to miss you! Joe.”

No further details have been released regarding Boesch’s services.