Survivor: Redemption Island Contestant Ralph Kiser Is Dead At 56

screenshot ralph kiser
(Image credit: CBS)

Though it often fails to rank in fans' Top 10 lists, the 2010 season of Survivor: Redemption Island was key in the evolution of the game. It was one of the first (after Heroes vs. Villains) to introduce a season title centered around a “theme,” with the theme then being an opportunity for eliminated players to battle their way back in. Furthermore, the twenty-second official season also marked a major pivot in strategy, with Rob Mariano inventing and implementing the “buddy system.” Unfortunately, though, one of the contestants who was front and center to it all has tragically passed away at age 56: Ralph Kiser.

People confirmed that the Virginia native suffered a heart attack on the morning of Wednesday, April 20. His nephew, George Kiser, reported to The U.S. Sun that Ralph died at around 3:15 a.m. He stated that the sudden death has left the Survivor player’s family and friends in shock, and understandably so. George reflected to the outlet:

He was a hard working man and a damn good hunter.

Ralph Kiser’s passing is the second to hit the Survivor community in the last year. Millennial vs. Gen X’s Sunday Burquest died only last April after a long battle with cancer, and her former alliance member Bret LaBelle shared a heartfelt message about his friend at the time. Kiser’s Redemption Island co-stars haven’t yet made any public statements themselves as of this writing, but Survivor fans are commemorating the farmer by trade on Twitter for his notorious humor that sustained his game.

The former player indeed made a mark on the CBS competition that was longer-lasting than most. He famously found a hidden immunity idol before anyone else in Survivor: Redemption Island, and later used it on someone else instead of himself. Kiser also helped spearhead his tribe’s ouster of returning alum Russell Hantz, which marked his first elimination in three seasons of playing. And Kiser made it pretty far thereafter as well – considering how he had been on the outside looking in to the all-powerful “Rob Mariano Army” following the merge – lasting until Day 33.

Ultimately, though, it’s the memory of Ralph Kiser’s goofy personality on the show that fans are celebrating the most after his untimely death. Longtime Survivor fans will presumably remember his rooster-crowing and hilariously failed conversation with Phillip Sheppard concerning kingpin Rob Mariano for some time. Case in point: this viewer’s reaction to the recent news, accompanied by a clip of Kiser musing on his approach to life:

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It’s a sad day to learn the death of one of the most unique characters to ever appear on Survivor. We here at Cinemablend offer our condolences to the friends and family who are survived by Ralph Kiser at this difficult time.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.