Rudy Boesch, an icon and trailblazer of Survivor, is not dead, despite rumors that were spread recently stating the contrary. Count on Boesch, a former Navy SEAL who toughed the harsh conditions as the oldest contestant ever cast on two seasons of the show, to outlive reports of his purported death.
Boesch, 91, is as old-school as they come. He finished third on the first season of Survivor in 2000, and then returned three years later for a shorter run on Survivor: All-Stars. He is revered as much for his stoic, comedic charm as he is for the unlikely friendship he forged with Richard Hatch in Survivor: Borneo. Boesch preached unwavering loyalty as the contestants around him were just beginning to discover that to be successful in a game about cunning and deceit, cutting close allies is often necessary. After his run on Survivor, Boesch remained close to the show, becoming a staple at the live finales for a while until his dotage and diagnosed Alzheimer's Disease prevented his presence.
As social media started to circulate information about Boesch's death, TMZ reported after speaking with Boesch's daughter that he was still alive, though he was in an assisted living facility. He requires 24-hour care, but is not at the final stage - or in hospice, as one false Facebook post had revealed to spark the rumors.
What made this unsubstantiated declaration so interesting was just how many people bought into Boesch's death, despite no single journalistic article stating such. Former contestants without primary information offered well-wishes to the Boesch family, causing fans to assume it was true. Not until Boesch's Borneo castmates, including Hatch and Gretchen Cordy, started speaking up on Twitter, did it become clear that this may have been a misunderstanding. In the midst of the R.I.P. tweets, Hatch wrote, "Rudy has not died, and the innumerable posts otherwise are irresponsibly disconcerting."
The entire ordeal, which played out over the course of roughly 24 hours, taught every duped fan and former contestant a very valuable lesson. The first is to not trust something you read on social media, especially if there's no reputable source backing up the claim. The second is to always assume that Boesch is alive unless proven beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise. Consider this: after 38 seasons and counting, he is still the oldest contestant to have ever competed on the show. And he did so all the way back in the first season. In both Survivor and his life, Boesch has been a prime example that no matter how advanced in age, it's never too late to push yourself to extreme limits. He continues to do this now, defying death in more ways than one.
Survivor season 39 premieres on Wednesday, September 25 at 8pm on CBS.