‘Survivor’ Legend Rudy Boesch Not Dead Despite Rumors, Suffering From Alzheimer’s

Survivor has been going strong since 2000, which means we’ve seen more than our fair share of interesting characters on the show. Jeff Probst’s greatest game calls to people from all walks of life across the United States, and Rudy Boesch was no exception to this. Boesch has gone down in history as the oldest contestant to appear on Survivor — and not just once, but twice.

Boesch reminded many fans of that one grandpa or uncle at family dinners — the one who can pull a great joke out of thin air and make everyone laugh, but a second later drops an unacceptable comment. Love him or hate him, many fans were saddened to hear Boesch had died. Luckily, Boesch’s family was there to set the record straight about the Survivor legend. 

A colorful history 

Rudy Boesch and Susan Hawk
Rudy Boesch and Susan Hawk | Theo Wargo/WireImage

Though Rudy Boesch might not have been able to clinch the title of sole survivor, he had already racked up a variety of impressive accolades throughout his life. Boesch joined the Navy in 1945, and was selected for special service. His biography on CBS explains that Boesch “immediately volunteered for ‘secret and hazardous duty’ with the Amphibious Scouts and Raiders, highly classified naval commando units.”

“In 1967, Rudy was advanced to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer and, between combat tours, served as the senior enlisted position of Command Master Chief. From 1968-1970, Rudy completed two combat deployments to Vietnam. Among his numerous awards, Rudy earned the Bronze Star Medal for heroic action during more than 45 combat operations. During and after his stint in Vietnam, Rudy was delegated the “Chief SEAL,” and set physical and operational standards at SEAL Team TWO,” reports CBS. 

That’s no small potatoes — it’s easy to see how Rudy Boesch came to be the force he was on Survivor

The oldest castaway 

Richard Hatch, Jerri Manthey and Rudy Boesch
Richard Hatch, Jerri Manthey and Rudy Boesch | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Born in 1928, Rudy Boesch appeared on two seasons of SurvivorSurvivor: Borneo and Survivor: All-Stars. When he first appeared on the show, Boesch was already a respectable 72 years old — 75 when he appeared on All-Stars, beating his own record for the oldest castaway. That’s pretty impressive, given how often we see much younger contestants lose out to their bodies.

Rudy Boesch has an extensive military background, the discipline and experience from which gave him the chops to overcome the variety of challenges Survivor presents. Boesch was also viewed as one of the leaders of his tribe, alongside Richard Hatch on Survivor: Borneo

Unfortunately, Boesch also had a habit of making comments that alienated his fellow castaways. Still stuck in the political viewpoints of his time, Boesch only grudgingly respected Hatch for his survival and leadership skills, due to Hatch’s sexuality.  

Still kickin’ 

Rudy Boesch
Rudy Boesch | Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Despite this level of political incorrectness, Rudy Boesch held a position as a legend among the Survivor community, so many were alarmed to hear that he might have passed away. Luckily, Boesch’s daughter revealed to TMZ that Boesch is indeed still alive and kickin’. 

Boesch’s daughter informed TMZ that while Boesch is still alive, he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is currently in assisted-living at Virginia Beach, requiring around the clock care. She went on to say that his doctors have not said that Boesch is “necessarily at the end stage,” though the Alzheimer’s is advanced.

Richard Hatch also took to social media to debunk the rumors of his death, tweeting, “Rudy has not died, and the innumerable posts otherwise are irresponsibly disconcerting.”