Sonja Christopher, first Survivor contestant voted off, dead at 87

Survivor 46
Photo: CBS

Not only has the world of Survivor lost a legend, but the same could be said for the entirety of reality TV. Sonja Christopher has died at the age of 87.

For those of you who watched the very first season of this show set in Borneo, then you will remember that Sonja was a part of the Tagi tribe alongside eventual winner Richard Hatch and a number of other iconic contestants from the franchise. She became the first person ever voted off the show, albeit in an extremely close vote. She was thought of at the time as the worst challenge performer of the group, but she was clearly loved by many out there. In a short period of time she charmed her castmates and was known for both her ukulele playing as well as her smile.

When Christopher first signed up to be a part of this reality TV experiment decades ago, there was no way of knowing what it would someday become. The first season of Survivor was an international phenomenon and it set the stage for what the show now is, forty-six seasons into its run. She leaves an indelible mark on the show’s history, and we know that she remained a fan in the years following the first season and was active in the community. It could have been easy to retreat away after being the first person voted off but instead, she embraced it fully and understand her place in franchise lore.

It was actually Liz Wilcox of Survivor 46 who noted online the news of Christopher’s passing, as she shared the following message on Twitter:

“Today, the legend herself Sonja Christopher of Season One passed away. I had the pleasure of meeting her on Christmas. She had so much spunk + love for Survivor and what the show brought to her life. I hope you’re singing + playing your heart out somewhere beautiful, Sonja.”

We hope that the show does offer some sort of tribute to Sonja through the remainder of the season. Without her and the events in Borneo, who knows what reality TV would be?

Our thoughts go out to Christopher’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.

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