In Memoriam: Remembering the Reality TV Stars Who Died in 2021

‘Alaskan Bush People’ star Billy Brown was just one of the many reality TV stars who passed away in 2021.

The world of reality TV lost many notable names this year. From TV actors who dabbled in reality TV to industry veterans, they all had an impact on the shows we love.

Let’s remember those we lost in 2021…

(Names that are hyperlinked can be clicked for more information.)

January 8: Angie Jakusz (‘Survivor’)

Angie appeared on 2005’s ‘Survivor: Paulu’ season, making it to Day 12. Angie’s casting was pivotal for the show because, at the time, few ‘Survivor’ cast members had visible tattoos and piercings, as Angie did. (She earned the nickname “No Fun Angie” during her season.) She passed away in January after a battle with a rare form of colorectal cancer. She was 40 years old. 

February 1: Dustin Diamond (‘Celebrity Fit Club’, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’)


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Dustin— who was best-known for playing Screech on ‘Saved By the Bell’– died of Stage 4 lung cancer, just weeks after being diagnosed. The former ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ and ‘Celebrity Fit Club’ star was only 44.

February 7: Billy Brown (‘Alaskan Bush People’)

Billy, the patriarch of the Brown family of Discovery Channel’s ‘Alaskan Bush People’ series, passed away suddenly after suffering a seizure inside his home. He left behind his eight children and wife Ami. Billy was 68.

March 26: Deshayla “Shay” Harris (‘Bad Girls Club’)

Deshayla— known as “Shay” on ‘Bad Girls Club’— died in March after being hit by a stray bullet during a shootout. Known as the  “Firecracker Fashionista” when she appeared on the final season of ‘BGC’ in 2017, Shay was an innocent victim. Last month, her family called for the police to continue the investigation to find Shay’s killer.

April 1: Linda Torres (‘Big Ang’) 


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Linda— a close friend of the late Angela “Big Ang” Raiola– was best known for appearing on Angela’s reality shows ‘Big Ang’ and ‘Mob Wives.’ She passed away at the age of 67 from COVID-19, just weeks after originally being diagnosed. She had also reportedly been battling breast cancer.

April 18: Sunday Burquest (‘Survivor’)


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Sunday, who appeared on 2016’s “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’ season, died after a battle with both esophageal and ovarian cancer that started in June 2020. (She had previously survived breast cancer.) She was 50 years old.

May 7: Tawny Kitaen (‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew; ‘The Surreal Life’) 

Tawny—an actress who appeared on ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’ and ‘The Surreal Life’— died in May at the age of 59. Best known for appearing in a series of sexy 1980s music videos, Tawny also starred in several movies. Five months after her death, Tawny’s cause of death was revealed to be dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease.

June 1: Henry “Nacho” Laun (‘Wahlburgers’)

Henry, better known as “Nacho,” frequently appeared on ‘Wahlburgers,’ the reality show about his close friend Mark Wahlburg. He was part of Mark’s original entourage, which inspirited the scripted show ‘Entourage.’ Henry’s cause of death was ruled to be complications of accidental acute cocaine intoxication. He was 54.

June 21: Crystal “Kit” Latapie (‘Jailbirds New Orleans’)

Crystal, who appeared on the Netflix docu-series ‘Jailbirds New Orleans’ and was best-known for being a motherly figure to fellow inmate Byrielle, died on June 21 at the age of 37. She had previously struggled with addiction but her cause of death has not been released publicly.

July 1: Tracie Wagaman (‘Love After Lockup’)

‘Love After Lockup’ star Tracie died just one week after giving birth to her second child, a baby boy she reportedly placed for adoption. Tracie had struggled with addiction for years, and a few weeks after her death, the Las Vegas Coroner’s Office ruled Tracie’s official cause of death to be methamphetamine toxicity. She was 41.

August 1: Gina Krasley (‘My 600 lb. Life’)

Fans met Gina on the eighth season of “My 600 lb. Life.” During her episode, Gina struggled to lose weight, but had some weight-loss success afterward. She died at home at the age of only 30. Her cause of death has not been released, but in the weeks before, Gina had been battling a mystery illness that left her with numbness and mobility issues.

August 7: Alla Subbotina (‘Love After Lockup’) 

Alla, who appeared on the very first season of ‘Love After Lockup,’ passed away in August, just one month after she was released from prison. Alla had been struggling with drug addiction for years, and in a Facebook post made by her mother, it was revealed that addiction led to Alla’s untimely death. She was 31.

August 23: Serge Onik (‘So You Think You Can Dance’)


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Serge, a professional dancer who competed on Season 11 of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and later went on to be a choreographer on ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ died sometime in August from unknown causes. He was 33.

September 1: Gregg Leakes (‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’)


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Gregg appeared on ‘RHOA’ alongside his wife, NeNe, for 12 seasons before passing away in September after a long battle with colon cancer. At the time of his death, Gregg was 66.

September 10: Freddie Combs (‘X Factor,’ ‘Ton of Love’)

‘X Factor’ Season 2 star Freddie died in September from kidney failure. A fan favorite who auditioned for the US version of the show in 2012, Freddie had been working to lose weight. After appearing on TLC’s ‘Ton of Love’ with his wife and hitting a high of 900 lbs., Freddie worked hard to bring his weight down to 385 lbs. before he died. At the time of his death, Freddie was 49.

October 5: Fuller Goldsmith (‘Chopped Junior’ champion; ‘Top Chef Junior’)


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Fuller Goldsmith died in October at the age of 17 (just days before his 18th birthday), after a long battle with acute lymphoplastic leukemia. He had battled the disease four times in his short life, but still managed to compete on ‘Top Chef Junior,’ and win ‘Chopped Junior.’ (He donated his $10,000 winnings from ‘Chopped Junior’ to the Division of Hematology and Pediatric Oncology at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.)

October 10: Chris Pearson (aka “Creatures Ferris”), (‘Ex on the Beach’) 


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Chris died after being stabbed during an altercation with another man. The MTV star— who appeared on the first season of MTV’s ‘Ex on the Beach’)— was only 25 at the time of his death.

October 27: Captain Mark Howard (‘Below Deck Mediterranean’)


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Captain Mark, best known for appearing on the first season of Bravo’s ‘Below Deck’ spin-off, passed away at the age of 65. It was later determined that his death was caused by hypertensive cardiovascular disease with chronic alcoholism.

November 13: Thomas Wells (‘X Factor,’ ‘The Winner Is’ & ‘The Voice’)


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Thomas— who appeared on numerous singing shows over the years— died in a tragic accident at the tire manufacturing plant he had been working at. He reportedly got caught in the factory’s conveyer belt and died from his injuries. He was 46.

December 14: Jason Hitch (“90 Day Fiance”)

Jason died from complications from COVID-19, after battling the virus in the ICU. He was 45. Jason made his reality TV debut on Season 2 of “90 Day Fiance” back in 2014. The season documented his relationship with his now-ex-wife, Cassia Taraves. 

December 31: Betty White (‘Betty White: Off Their Rockers’) 


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Legendary actress and host of reality comedy series ‘Betty White: Off Their Rockers’ died today at the age of 99. (She was just weeks away from her 100th birthday.) TMZ broke the news that the former star of ‘The Golden Girls’ and numerous other hit TV shows died at her home.

RELATED STORY: A Complete List of All the Reality TV Babies Born in 2021

(Photos: Instagram, FOX, TLC, Netflix, WEtv, CBS) 

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