With over 40 seasons, CBS’ hit competition “Survivor” is one of those shows that never ceases to capture our attention. The show had over 600 castaways compete to truly show the meaning of “survival of the fittest.” As anyone could imagine, being on an action-packed game show like “Survivor” isn’t your average vacation. Between arguments, tears, and showmances, absolutely anything can happen when you’re stranded on an island with other hopefuls as you fight for food, water, and shelter. “Survivor” contestants aren’t staying on this island for no reason; winners of “Survivor” receive a grand prize of $1 million.
After competing on “Survivor,” everyone’s lives looked a bit different. Whether it be appearances on TV shows or creating solid friendships, there is beauty behind the struggle of being on the show. Unfortunately, we have lost a few “Survivor” contestants in recent years. Keep scrolling as we pay tribute to these notable stars.
Sunday Burquest ('Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X') leaves behind four children
Sunday Burquest appeared as a contestant on “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.” The Minnesota youth pastor, who was a Gen-Xer, forged strong relationships with several of her cast mates. Unfortunately, her alliances turned on her and she was voted out on Day 35 in Fiji. Despite not winning the show, Sunday was praised for being the oldest in the Gen X tribe, as well as revealing she was a breast cancer survivor in 2012.
After appearing on “Survivor,” Sunday and 19 other contestants competed in the first Survivor-themed mini-competition, “Sequester,” in May 2020. Sunday was eliminated in the ninth round, as she finished the competition in 12th place overall.
A few months later, Sunday was diagnosed with esophageal and ovarian cancers, per Deadline. The former contestant died April 18, 2021 at the age of 50 years old from complications with cancer. She is survived by her husband and four children.
Angie Jakusz ('Survivor: Palau') faced health issues after appearing on 'Survivor'
New Orleans bartender Cassandra Anne “Angie” Jakusz stood out from her fellow contestants on “Survivor: Palau” with her distinct differences from the rest. Fans remember the unconventional reality star most for her colorful tattoos. On the show’s first episode, Angie was almost voted out for being considered a weak link. Angie proved many of her peers wrong, becoming a fierce competitor and one of the strongest women of the Ulong tribe. Angie did not have her name written down until the fifth episode, where she was eliminated.
Angie dealt with a lot of health issues after appearing on “Survivor.” In 2017, Angie was diagnosed with a rare form of squamous cell colorectal cancer. The following year, Angie’s husband Steven Calandra launched a GoFundMe to cover her medical costs. On Jan. 8, 2021, Angie died from cancer complications at age 40. She is survived by her husband, parents, brother, niece, and nephew.
Cliff Robinson tried to hide his NBA fame on 'Survivor: Cagayan'
It’s not every day we get to see athletes compete in game shows, but Cliff Robinson pushed the needle on the show’s 28th season, “Survivor: Cagayan — Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn.” Cliff spent almost two decades of his life as an NBA player. Per his “Survivor” bio, he played for the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets (currently known as the Brooklyn Nets). Given his athletic abilities, the New York native was quickly seen as a threat to his competitors. As a result, he was eliminated on the fifth episode in a 4-3 blindside.
Cliff had some pretty interesting experiences post-“Survivor.” After filming, Cliff traveled to North Korea with former NBA star Dennis Rodman as part of a game of “basketball diplomacy” for the 30th birthday of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. In 2016, Cliff opened up his own marijuana business called Uncle Spiffy.
Cliff was hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage in March 2017. The pro-athlete died of lymphoma at the age of 53 on Aug. 29, 2020. He is survived by his wife Heather Lufkins and son Isaiah Robinson.
Rudy Boesch ('Survivor: Borneo' and 'All-Stars') is in the 'Survivor' Hall Of Fame
Rudy Boesch appeared on the iconic first season of “Survivor.” At the age of 72, Rudy joined a dominant alliance combined of Tagi tribe members Richard Hatch, Kelly Wiglesworth, and Susan Hawk. The group of 4 swiftly made it to the finale, with Rudy placing third in the competition. Three years later, Rudy returned to compete once more in “All Stars” at the age of 75. Unfortunately, he was the second person voted out.
Rudy saw great success after appearing on “Survivor.” He appeared on shows such as “Family Feud” and “JAG.” Additionally, he attended “Survivor’s” 10-year anniversary party. In 2015, he was inducted into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame. Rudy died in a retirement community on Nov. 1, 2018 from complications associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, per Entertainment Weekly. He was 91 at the time of his death. The “Survivor: Island of the Idols” episode, “I Was Born at Night, but Not Last Night” was dedicated to the late star.
Ashley Massaro ('Survivor: China') was set to star in a PSA before her death
Ashley Massaro was a woman of many talents. Aside from being a professional wrestler with the WWE, the New York native formerly competed as a gymnast in Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageants. Additionally, she’s appeared in magazines such as Maxim, Playboy, and Kandy. Massaro made her game show debut on season 15, “Survivor: China.” Ashley was voted out unanimously on the second episode after her Zhan Hu tribe noticed how much she consistently clashed with tribe age Dave Cruser.
Ashley returned back to WWE in January 2008, according to Fandom. Later that year, the “Smallville” actress requested to be released two months after an article about escort service mentioned her as a client. She reportedly denied the allegations on her MySpace account. Ashley died by suicide on May 16, 2019, per New York Post. She was 39. Prior to her tragic death, she agreed to star in a video for a song about suicide prevention written by one of her colleagues.
“Ashley was very enthusiastic about the song,” Brian Orlando, the morning show host and assistant program director at 94.3 The Shark, told the publication. Massaro hosted a weekly show on the rock station. “She heard it after it was recorded and loved it. She even agreed to be in the video.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Dan Kay ('Survivor: Gabon') died unexpectedly
Daniel “Dan” Kay appeared on the 17th season of “Survivor.” The Boston lawyer finished the season in 11th place as a result of a tribal switch and a double tribal council that didn’t guarantee him any immunity. Dan was the only castaway on “Survivor: Gabon” to be sent to Exile Island and not make the Final Tribal Council, per Fandom. After appearing on “Survivor,” there aren’t many details about Dan’s personal life. However, he attended “Survivor’s” 10-year anniversary with his Gabon cast mates in January 2010. Dan unexpectedly died on Dec. 31, 2016 at the age of 40. “Survivor” host Jeff Probst shared the news via Twitter. “I just heard the very sad news about the sudden loss of Dan Kay of Survivor: Gabon,” he tweeted. “The Survivor family sends our love to Dan’s family.”
While his cause of death is unknown, there is no foul play suspected in his death, per Deadline. Dan is survived by two children, his mother, a sister, and two nieces, and his girlfriend, according to his obituary posted on the Lambert Funeral Home website.
Caleb Bankston ('Survivor: Blood vs. Water') was set to get married to Colton Cumbie prior to his death
Caleb Bankston appeared on “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” alongside his fiancé, “One World” contestant Colton Cumbie. Viewers clearly saw a difference between the two lovers, as many believed they were polar opposites of each other. Colton was infamous for controversy among his castmates, meanwhile Caleb seemed more lax. The Alabama native continued to make it further in the competition than his significant other, who quit the show in the third episode. Caleb was eliminated on Day 30.
Caleb died on June 24, 2014 at the age of 27 after an accidental train derailment on Alabama Warrior Roadway in Birmingham, per The Hollywood Reporter. Caleb, a locomotive engineer and conductor, was reportedly checking on something between two train cars at the time of his death. According to the coroner, the reality star fell off when the derailment occurred. Per the publication, Caleb and Colton were set to wed in October 2014.
B.B. Andersen's ('Survivor: Borneo') attitude cost him the competiton
Real estate developer Bill Byron “B.B.” Andersen didn’t vibe too well with his fellow “Survivor: Borneo” contestants. He was known for his pushy demeanor, making it hard to connect with the other castaways. Andersen’s abrasive attitude ultimately cost him his spot in the competition, as he was the second player eliminated from the season. He was also the first male to be eliminated from the competition (via Fandom). One of the deciding factors in his elimination was saying that he wouldn’t mind being voted out, which his team took as an opportunity to make him first priority. Yikes, so much for brotherhood.
After appearing on “Survivor,” B.B. did commercials for Reebok and Home Depot. Additionally, he remained active in the construction industry in Kansas. B.B. died at age 77 from brain cancer, per Gold Derby. He is survived by his wife Jan, and their daughter Alexandra, four sons Mark, John, Todd and Darren, and eight grandchildren, according to his obituary.
Jenn Lyon ('Survivor: Palau') is the first ever 'Survivor' that died
Jennifer “Jenn” Lyon made her mark as the positive, optimistic contestant on “Survivor: Palau.” What viewers also remember of the star is her budding romance with fellow contestant Gregg Carey. Jenn ultimately finished the season in fourth place, after being eliminated in the show’s first fire-making tiebreaker against Ian Rosenberger. After “Survivor,” Jenn appeared in the 2007 comedy, “Daddy Day Camp,” as Mrs. Simmons. Despite her deteriorating health, she also attended the 10-year anniversary party for the show.
Jenn was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2005, shortly after her season aired. She survived cancer, and dedicated her time to spreading awareness about cancer research. Jenn died on Jan. 19, 2010 at the age of 37 after the recurring cancer metastasized to the bone. Jenn is the first “Survivor” star to pass away.
We send our condolences to these “Survivor” stars’ families and loved ones, as they are greatly missed.
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