The Survivor family has lost another member. On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, contestant Ralph Kiser passed away at the age of 56. He had competed on Survivor: Redemption Island, the show's 22nd season, during the spring of 2011. Fans are understandably wanting to know what led to his passing at a relatively young age.
With over 600 people having appeared on the reality competition show since it premiered in 2000, it's not a huge shock that several of them have faced controversy or tragedy after (or sometimes even during) their seasons. Kiser is unfortunately the 10th Survivor contestant to have passed away in the show's history.
Here's what happened to him, and a reminder of what he brought to the Survivor franchise.
What happened to Ralph Kiser from 'Survivor'?
The Sun (the U.S. counterpart of Britain's newspaper of the same name) originally announced Kiser's passing. His nephew, George Kiser, explained that Ralph suffered a heart attack early on April 20 and described him as "a hard-working man."
Kiser was a Survivor superfan before appearing on the show, revealing in his official CBS biography that he'd wanted to be on the show for years prior to being cast in Redemption Island.
He's the fourth Survivor castaway to pass on in the last two years. Cliff Robinson (Survivor: Cagayan) passed on in August 2020 from lymphoma, while Angie Jakusz (Survivor: Palau) died in January 2021 after her own cancer battle. Sunday Burquest (Survivor: Millenials vs. Gen X) battled multiple kinds of cancer before passing away in April 2021.
Who was Ralph Kiser on 'Survivor'?
Ralph Kiser was 44 when his dream came true and he was cast in Survivor: Redemption Island, which was filmed in Nicaragua. He was one of 14 new contestants who joined returning stars Russell Hantz and "Boston Rob" Mariano.
Kiser was a member of the Zapatera tribe at the game's start, and the second-to-last member of that tribe left standing. He was voted off the island in eighth place — just before Zapatera's last member, former NFL player Steve Wright.
In Season 22, Episode 11, "A Mystery Package," Kiser actually defeated the season's eventual winner, Phillip Sheppard, in a challenge. Rob saw him as a threat and aimed to have him voted out, which happened when Ralph was sent to Redemption Island.
Kiser spent two episodes on the island before he came in last during the Redemption Island Duel in Episode 13, "Too Close for Comfort." A word puzzle stymied him and, therefore, he lost his chance at redemption.
However, Kiser never lost his popularity with the fans, who saw exactly the same hard-working, salt of the earth person on the show as he was in real life. He was the Everyman type that Survivor originally centered around.
In a show full of big personalities and would-be celebrities, Kiser's CBS bio also talked about being "amazed" by the animals on his farm and how he wanted to "be a hometown hero for the folks back home!"