Cassandra Waldon was the first contestant to ever enter the Big Brother house in the American version of the reality show, and now host Julie Chen is remembering the contestant after her tragic death this week.
The 56-year-old Waldon died following a car accident in Rome. As Radar Online noted, Waldon worked for the United Nations as the Director of Communications for the International Fund for Agricultural Development and was living and working in Italy when she was struck by a car nearly two months ago. Waldon fell into a coma and never regained consciousness before her death on September 25, the report noted.
On Friday, Big Brother host Julie Chen remembered Waldon, who was the very first contestant to enter the house when the show debuted in 2000. She would finish in sixth place that season, which was the only year of the American version in which viewers decided which player would be eliminated each week.
“Rest in Peace Cassandra,” Chen wrote. “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.”
The Big Brother cast has previously rallied in response to personal tragedies. Back in 2017, contestants sent messages of support to contestant Frankie Grande and his sister, singer Ariana Grande, after a bomb attack following her Manchester concert killed 22 of her fans and left dozens of others injured.
When Julie addressed the tragedy on her daytime talk show, The Talk, she became overcome with emotion as she reported on the attack. Several other Big Brother alums sent messages to the Grande family, including Survivor/Big Brother star Caleb Reynolds.
“Prayers for Manchester, and everyone at the @ArianaGrande concert! Y’all are all in my prayers hoping @FrankieJGrande and family is okay,” tweeted Big Brother 16 star Caleb Reynolds.
— tyler (@chillegades) October 4, 2019
Cassandra Waldon remained a well-liked Big Brother player from a season that lacked the intensive competitiveness of subsequent editions of the show. Because viewers decided which player would be evicted — it would not be until the next year that contestants voted one person out each week — there was no need for players to form alliances and schemes to get their way to the end.