Sonja Christopher, first-ever 'Survivor' castoff, dead at 87

 April 29, 2024

Some of the contestants from the hit network survival show "Survivor" have become legends in that particular programming niche.

Unfortunately for fans of the show, which has aired for nearly 24 years, its first-ever contestant to be "voted off the island," Sonja Christopher, has died at 87, Fox News reported.

No cause of death has been revealed; however, she had previously survived breast cancer.

The show's alumni paid tribute to Christopher across social media when the saddening news hit the headlines.

Statement released

The show's official social media pages released a statement on Christopher's passing, with host Jeff Probst noting that she was "one of the kindest" people in his interactions with her through the years.

"Sonya[sic] was one of the kindest people to ever play Survivor. Every interaction I had with her over the years was lovely.  She would always greet you with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. I’m honored that our paths got to cross," Probst wrote.

Fox News noted:

Christopher competed on the very first season of "Survivor" in 2000 at 63 years old, and was known for singing and playing ukulele to boost tribe morale during her brief appearance on the show

In a previous interview, Christopher recalled how she came to be a contestant on the show, which was a new concept at the time.

"So I had moved to a senior retirement community," she said, describing her life at the time recovering from breast cancer. "And I was by myself, no ties, my son was grown and taking care of himself. I was reading the morning paper, and it said something in an article about CBS looking for 16 Americans to cast away on a deserted island and see who could survive for 39 days."

Tributes pour in

Given her popularity as an original castmember and the first to be voted off, tributes to Christopher flooded social media over the weekend.

"RIP to Sonja Christopher, the woman who quite literally started it all. The definition of a legend!" one X user wrote.

Gervase Peterson, a fellow season 1 contestant, wrote, "RIP to the OG Sonja Christopher. The impact you have made on so many people will not be forgotten. You’re a legend and I’m thankful for the memories we made. I can hear you playing your ukulele with that big smile."

Clearly, she will be remembered and her status as a "Survivor" legend will live on.

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