Former ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’ Contestant Ralph Kiser Dies at 56

Ralph Kiser Survivor
Monty Brinton/CBS

Ralph Kiser, a contestant who appeared on the 22nd season of Survivor, died on Wednesday morning after a sudden heart attack. He was 56.

The news of Kiser’s passing was first revealed by a family friend on Facebook and was later confirmed by People. “[Ralph] passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack this morning,” wrote Michael Allbright. “His brother Gilbert messaged me this morning to let the Survivor community know.”

A farmer from Lebanon, Virginia, Kiser competed on Survivor: Redemption Island in 2011 as part of the Zapatera tribe. He notably found a hidden immunity idol during his first days in the game and was part of a majority alliance that voted out infamous Survivor villain Russell Hantz. Kiser would reach the merge portion of the game but found himself on the wrong side of the numbers. He ultimately finished in 9th place.

“I’ve wanted to be on the show for years and knew one day I’d get my chance,” Kiser wrote in his official CBS biography. “I want to be a hometown hero for the folks back home!”

Known for his hard work ethic and funny misspellings of his fellow contestants’ names, Kiser would make his mark on a season that was often overshadowed by the returning Survivor icon ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano. And despite not winning, Kiser was grateful for the opportunity to finally play the game he loved so much.

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Players negotiate for resources in the first post-merge episode, and one competitor makes the game unnecessarily hard.

“It was the time of my life,” he told People in his exit interview at the time. “It was a dream come true for a man like me to be in Nicaragua and playing a game to be on television. What does that happen to anyone? Never, that’s when. I’d do it again over and over.”

Survivor, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS