Big Brother started a new era of reality TV. 20 years and hundreds of contestants brought viewers together across the world. Whether it has been the initial series or celebrity edition, fans and the cast have had to say goodbye to some of the beloved Big Brother family following tragic deaths.
Big Brother brought dramatic scenes and 24-hour coverage, but the entertaining lives of the contestants had millions of viewers tuning in from all over the world throughout the past 12 years.
The program unveiled the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of sticking several strangers into one home away from their family and friends for weeks at a time, while the nation watched what unfolded following a series of challenges and tasks.
Reality Titbit remembers iconic Big Brother cast mates and tragic deaths which shocked fans across the globe from US and UK versions.
Cassandra Waldon not only participated in the first season of Big Brother USA, but she was also the first member to enter the famous house. Cassandra left in sixth place with the support of many viewers who got to know her throughout the TV journey.
Tragically, Cassandra died at 56 after being hit by a car in Rome in 2019. She suffered a head injury, which resulted in a loss of consciousness, and she later tragically died.
The TV personality was working in Italy for the United Nations as the director of communication for the International Fund for Agricultural Development at the time of her death.
Big Brother host Julie Chen Moonves paid tribute at the time of her death.
She said: “Your light will continue to shine in this world because of the way you lived your life: with class and grace. May your family and loved ones find solace and peace.
“Thank you for bringing your intelligence, warmth and wisdom to the Big Brother house Season 1. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers. May God Bless your soul.”
Jade Goody‘s personality saw her receiving a lot of air time during the Big Brother franchise. Her appearance in the UK’s third season led her to become a finalist in the series, where she came in fourth place.
Her extrovert personality led the young star to return to the series. She participated in the fifth season of the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, finishing in ninth place.
In 2008, Jade publicly battled cancer. It was then announced by The Guardian, the mom-of-two passed away at the young age of 27 a year later after losing her fight against cervical cancer.
The star opening up over her cancer fight led to a seismic change in people’s awareness of cervical cancer. Following her passing, the number of women attending cervical screenings in the UK rose by half a million.
Her two children, Bobby and Freddie who are now teenagers, have grown up with dad Jeff Brazier.
Kent Blackwelder first appeared on season two of US Big Brother. Despite his strong conservative opinions and admitting to being homophobic, he grew a close relationship with Bunky Miller, a gay housemate. The duo continued their friendship outside of the house.
The Tennessee native was sent home in week five after 40 days in the house. Kent was also the eldest houseguest in the group.
In 2017, his daughter Maddy Blackwelder announced her father had died at the age of 62 after suffering a heart attack. Kent was also the first member of the American Big Brother family to die.
As per The List, the now-deleted post described him to have a “heart of gold”, and even his former housemate Bunky recalled his positive experiences with his friend.
He also wrote he was able to visit Kent at his home before he passed.
Bunky said: “I never dreamed this would be the last time I would see Kent. My heart is broken.
“Kent and I were 2 completely different men who built a bridge. And Kent came a lot farther across that bridge than me. Thank you for your love, respect, and friendship, you Old Fart. Love, the Big Homo.”
Participating in season 12 of UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, Dustin had a memorable journey in the series. The actor was known for playing Screech on the sitcom Saved by the Bell, but Dustin also appeared on other celebrity reality shows.
Weeks after his first round of chemotherapy, TMZ was the first to break the news. Dustin sadly passed away from stage four lung cancer at age 44. He was known as one of the rare cases as he never smoked.
While battling the disease, his rep told TMZ it was making it difficult for the TV star to come to terms with the diagnosis. However, there was a history of cancer in his family after his mother passed away from breast cancer.
At the time of his death, his girlfriend was by his side. She later revealed that “he did not suffer”. His last project became Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, where he played himself.
In 2006, Nikki Grahame was one of the 22 guests from season seven. She lasted 58 days before being evicted, but the audience brought her back to the house, and she eventually finished in fifth place.
Her fame saw her participate in other series within the franchise. Nikki appeared on Ultimate Big Brother, Big Brother 16, and Big Brother 19 in the UK. She also made an appearance for Big Brother 4 in Canada.
The reality star spoke candidly about her struggles with anorexia in her two books, Dying To Be Thin and Fragile.
In 2021, Nikki was admitted to the hospital for the eleventh time, but passed away a day after being discharged. Metro reports she died of anorexia nervosa. Nikki was only 38 years old.
If you have been affected by this story, there are helplines and support organizations. In the US, contact Cancer Care at 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) or visit this link, [email protected]. You can also call the American Cancer Society on 1-800-227-234 or visit their website. In the UK, you can call 0808 800 6000 or visit Cancer Research UK, or Macmillan Cancer Support.
There are many eating disorder helplines in the UK here to help. Beat can be contacted at 0808 801 0677 while Mind’s contact number is 0300 123 3393. If you are based in the USA, you can call NEDA on (800) 931-2237.