Rudy Boesch, early fan favourite on US reality show Survivor, dies at 91

Rudy Boesch, a retired tough-as-nails US Navy SEAL and fan favourite on the inaugural season of Survivor in the United States, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 91.

Director of operations for the Seal Veterans Foundation, Steve Gonzalez, said Boesch died peacefully yesterday in hospice care in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was surrounded by loved ones.

Boesch joined the Navy in 1944 and retired in 1990. He completed two tours in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star.

He was 72 when he took third place on CBS' Survivor. He proved to be so popular as a no-nonsense but loveable character that he was invited back for the eighth season, Survivor: All Stars.

Gonzalez called Boesch a "legend in the SEAL Teams".

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

In this Aug. 23, 2000, file photo, a group of Survivor contestants, break into laughter during a live town hall meeting at CBS Studios in Hollywood in Los Angeles. Survivors are, from left, bottom row, Susan Hawk, Rudy Boesch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Richard Hatch, covering his face, top row, Greg Buis, Jenna Lewis, Gervase Peterson, Colleen Haskell and Sean Kenniff. Source: Associated Press