In many ways, it’s hard to believe that Rudy Boesch has lasted so long on Survivor. But against rivals up to 50 years his junior, the military veteran charmed fans with his time-honoured values and outspoken speeches. Fans love his blossoming – and unlikely – friendship with Richard Hatch and honored his 45 years of military service.
More than two decades later, commenters on a Reddit thread looked back on the original season, with the original poster calling Boesch “the absolute greatest legend to ever grace the Survivor’s show.” “Rudy is an iconic survivor and very popular,” u/BusyLife02 wrote approvingly. A 2019 obituary published by CBS described Boesch as a fan favorite, while host Jeff Probst did Twitter To describe Boesch as “one of the most famous and popular players of all time”.
But did the producers share this reverence? According to ABC News, in 2001, “Survivor” contestant Stacey Stillman sued CBS and executive producer Mark Burnett, accusing him of rigging the show in Boesch’s favor. Stillman, an attorney who was voted out early in the game, claimed Burnett convinced candidates Dirk Been and Sean Kenniff to vote against them instead of Boesch in order to keep the grumpy military veteran on the show longer — and to attract an older demographic . Kenniff denied his voice was manipulated by “Survivor” producers, the outlet reported. Stillman’s lawsuit was eventually settled out of court, according to Entertainment Weekly, so fans will never know if Boesch really survived the show’s first season — or not.