Keith Nale, who was known for his appearances in the Survivor franchise, has died at age 62.
“He passed away this afternoon,” the CBS alum’s son, Wes Nale, confirmed to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday, April 18. “He’d been battling cancer for the past few months and we found out about it in January.”
Keith’s brother, Kevin Nale, also spoke out on his sibling’s passing. “A life taken way too soon!” he told the outlet.
Keith made his reality TV debut on the 29th season of the CBS series, Survivor: San Juan del Sur, in 2014, where he played alongside his son, Wes. While he never became a core member of a long-term alliance, Keith managed to make it all the way to the final four before being voted out one day before the Final Tribal Council. He returned to the game the following year for Survivor: Cambodia, where he progressed until castmate Kelley Wentworth won immunity and he was sent home for a second time.
Following news of his death, Keith’s former Survivor castmates took to social media to mourn the loss of their costar.
“Keith – a man with the purest heart, who brought humor into moments where it was needed most,” Wentworth, who competed alongside Keith in both San Juan del Sur and Cambodia, wrote via Twitter on Tuesday. “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to meet Keith & share memories together on the beaches of Nicaragua & Cambodia. My heart is with the entire Nale family. This is a devastating loss.”
Jeremy Collins, for his part — who also starred alongside the former fire captain in both games — tweeted: “My condolences to the Big D, Wes, Austin and entire Nale family. You will be missed Keith but your legacy will live on. Rest in power my firefighter/survivor brother. #RIPOtis.”
While the Louisiana native wasn’t known for his strategy, he became a fan favorite player and prided himself on playing an honest game. In December 2014. After he was sent home from San Juan del Sur, Keith opened up about competing in his 50s alongside much younger castmates.
“They were impressed, being I was 53. Now granted that’s not 93, but that’s not 23 either,” the reality show alum shared during an interview with UpRoxx at the time. “And I said ‘Man, they were impressed with some of the challenges.’ They said, ‘Man, I couldn’t have hung on that pole for an hour and a half.’ They were all behind me, a great bunch of guys. They wanted me to win it and, you know, bring it home to Louisiana. But that just didn’t happen.”
He continued: “But hey, I got a bunch of texts last night. …. They said, ‘Fourth place is great, but you’re so close you can see it, you know what I mean.’ I want to say, ‘Well heck, I’d rather come in 10th than fourth or I’d rather come in 15th than fourth,’ but not really. You just feel like that at the moment.”
When he returned to Cambodia for season 31, Keith explained why he chose to return to the physically demanding reality series.
“When do you get a second chance for something crazy like this?” he told cameras during a 2015 episode. “People ask me if Survivor is fun. I tell ‘em, ‘Hell, no! Survivor ain’t fun. Going on a cruise is fun. You know, going fishing is fun. Going to play golf is fun. This ain’t fun. I mean, look at me. Golly!”