Actor James Michael Tyler, famous for his role as Gunther in TV sitcom Friends, died of stage 4 prostate cancer on October 24, 2021, his manager said in a statement. He was 59 years old. The American actor had been battling cancer since 2018 and died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles.
“Tyler passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday morning. If you met him once you made a friend for life,” mentioned the statement.
The official Friends Twitter and Instagram accounts posted a heart-warming message remembering the “beloved actor.”
Warner Bros. Television mourns the loss of James Michael Tyler, a beloved actor and integral part of our FRIENDS family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and fans. ❤️☕️ pic.twitter.com/9coGnT5BHz
— FRIENDS (@FriendsTV) October 24, 2021
His Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston also posted an emotional tribute on Instagram. “Friends would not have been the same without you. Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed #JamesMichaelTyler 💔,” she wrote in the message.
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In June this year, he talked about his struggle with cancer on Today show and revealed that the cancer had spread to his bones. He also worked towards raising awareness about prostate cancer. His manager said, “Wanting to help as many people as possible, he bravely shared his story and became a campaigner for those with a prostate to get a… blood test as early as 40-years-old.”
Tyler is famous for portraying the role of Gunther, Central Perk manager hopelessly in love with Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel. He appeared in 150 episodes over the show’s 10 seasons (1994-2004). For HBO Max’s Friends reunion, aired in May 2021, Tyler made a virtual appearance via Zoom. “I didn’t want it to be like, ‘Oh, Gunther has cancer,’ you know what I mean?” he said during his June appearance on Today.
Actor James Michael Tyler (@slate_michael) played Gunther on “Friends” for 10 years, but he was unable to attend the recent cast reunion in person because he’s been battling a serious health issue. Now he’s sharing his news for the first time with @craigmelvin. pic.twitter.com/272tg4Sbvc
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 21, 2021
Other than Friends, Tyler has made appearances in Just Shoot Me!, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Scrubs, and Episodes. He also won several accolades for his role in two short films — The Gesture and the Word, and Processing. Tyler acted in these shorts while undergoing treatment.
To raise awareness for prostate cancer, Tyler’s spoken word performance of “If You Knew,” a poem by Stephan Kalinich, was adapted into a short video.
James Michael Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.
Hero and featured image: Courtesy @Friends/Twitter