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Gossip & Rumors: Sonja Christopher, First 'survivor' Castoff, Dead At

GOSSIP & RUMORS: Sonja Christopher, first ‘Survivor’ castoff, dead at 87

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Sonja Christopher, who made history as the first person voted off “Survivor” and the first lesbian contestant, died Friday. She was 87.

“Sonya [sic] was one of the kindest people to ever play Survivor. Every interaction I had with her over the years was lovely,” “Survivor” host Jeff Probst, 62, said in a statement Saturday on the show’s official Instagram page.

“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,” he added.

Born on Jan. 28, 1937, in Olympia, Washington, Christopher was a 63-year-old music therapist and breast cancer survivor when she competed on the first season, “Survivor: Borneo.”

She once said she was inspired to audition after enduring a three-day outdoor training program for breast cancer survivors.

Sonja Christopher, who made history as the first person voted off “Survivor” and the first lesbian contestant, died Friday. She was 87. Instagram/@survivorcbs
Christopher, in the white shirt, initially said that being the first castoff was “a little humiliating.” CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection

She struggled with the first challenge, with Probst snuffing out her torch on day three — but not before she played the ukulele and sang the “therapist’s version” of “Bye Bye Blues” to Richard Hatch, who went on to win the season.

At the time, she said that being the first castoff was “a little humiliating.”

Eventually, she was able to make light of being the first to get the axe.

“If somebody recognizes me — which is nothing like it used to be — and asks, ‘Weren’t you on ‘Survivor’?’, I’ll say, ‘Yes, I have the dubious distinction of being the first person ever voted off ‘Survivor,” she recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 2020 for the 20th anniversary of her season. “Now, how many people can say that? I think it’s pretty funny.”

Eventually, she was able to make light of being the first to get the axe. Facebook/Sonja Christopher

After her turn on “Survivor,” she appeared on an episode of Dick Van Dyke’s “Diagnosis: Murder” as well as “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and “The Daily Show.”

Entertainment Weekly reports that a cause of death was not disclosed.





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