Angie Jakusz, best known as a contestant on the US version of Survivor, has died after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 40.
She passed away Friday in the New Orleans area but the official cause of her death has not yet been announced, TMZ reported. A graveside service was held Wednesday afternoon in Metairie, Louisiana.
A GoFundMe page recently launched in her name revealed that she had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a rare form of colorectal cancer. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised $US1390 of its $US30,000 goal.
Born Cassandra Anne Jakusz in Waukesha, Wisconsin, she later spent time in San Francisco and New York before moving permanently to New Orleans, according to her CBS bio. She worked there as an artist — using watercolours and found objects — and bartended in the French Quarter.
Despite her loads of colourful tattoos, Jakusz’s fellow Survivor castaways gave her the nickname “No Fun Angie” when she appeared on the 2005 season of the reality TV trailblazer, which was set in Palau. She competed for the Ulong Tribe.
Jakusz, who also co-starred in the raunchy 1998 indie movie Lucinda’s Spell, actually made a little reality TV history on Survivor. She was voted out on day 12 — which made her the first contestant to lose during the revote phase in tribal council.
Despite her young age — she was only 25 when she did the show — Jakusz quickly became a favourite of her tribe-mates and audiences alike.
“People have to remember back in 2005 — women weren’t cast on Survivor with dreads and tattoos,” fellow “Palau” contestant Coby Archa, 48, told People. “She broke the casting barrier. Fans related to her story so much. And a lot of people wanted to see her play again for her strength.”
She racked up solid performances in various team challenges, but ended up ranking in 13th place when she got the boot. Diehard fans later spotted her at the show’s 10-year anniversary party that aired in 2010.
“We had heard from her family three years ago that she was battling cancer,” Archa told the outlet. “We raised some money for her treatments. She wasn’t into the fame, just the experience of Survivor. She came, she played, and she went back to her life in New Orleans. She liked her life that way.”
Jakusz is survived by her husband of nine years, Steven Calandra, and her parents, as well as a brother, niece and nephew.
This story originally appeared on Page Six and is republished here with permission.