Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died at 59 at his Los Angeles home on Sunday, following a three-year battle with stage four prostate cancer.
A representative for the actor, who played Gunther on the hit NBC series throughout its 10 series, confirmed the actor’s tragic passing to TMZ.
His family said in a statement: ‘The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh “Friend”), from the hit series “Friends,” but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband…
‘Michael loved live music, cheering on Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life.’
RIP: Friends actor James Michael Tyler died at 59 at his Los Angeles home on Sunday following a three-year battle with stage four prostate cancer
The actor was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and didn’t publicly reveal his battle until earlier this year.
Tyler appeared on 150 episodes of the hit show during its run from 1994 up until 2004. He had also appeared on shows including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Modern Music, Episodes, Just Shoot Me! and Scrubs.
Tyler is survived by his wife Jennifer Carno. In June, the star first opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show.
He said: ‘I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones. I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years … It’s stage four. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.’
An honour: The actor was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and didn’t publicly reveal his battle until earlier this year (Tyler appeared on the Friends reunion special earlier this year)
On-air: He was seen opposite David Schwimmer in a 2002 episode of the NBC hit
Courageous: In June, Tyler opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show
He said that he was diagnosed after a September 2018 checkup in which he registered ‘an extraordinarily high number’ for a ‘prostate-specific antigen.’
He said: ‘I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there…
‘Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said, “Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.”‘
He said after a year of effective hormone therapy, his cancer spread amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The actor was seen performing with Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston on the show
‘I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,’ he said. ‘So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.’
Tyler appeared on the Friends reunion special on HBO Max this past May via Zoom.
‘I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities,’ he said on the Today show. ‘I was very happy to be included.
The actor, seen in June after a chemotherapy treatment, was a cancer awareness advocate
‘It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? I didn’t want to be like, “Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.”‘
The actor was born in Winona, Mississippi on May 28, 1962 and grew up in Anderson, South Carolina with his sister after his parents died.
He graduated from Clemson University in 1984 and got a master’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1987.
The next year, he moved to Los Angeles and did production assistant work, as well as at establishments such as Guitar Center and the Bourgeois Pig, before he was cast on Friends.
Fans paid tribute to the late actor via social media on Sunday
Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox lead celebrity tributes to late Friends castmate James Michael Tyler following his death at 59 after three-year cancer battle: ‘The show would have not been the same without you’
Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox were among the stars who took to social media Sunday to pay memorial to their late Friends costar James Michael Tyler, who died at 59 at his Los Angeles home on Sunday following a three-year battle with stage four prostate cancer.
Aniston, 52, shared shots of the late actor, writing, ‘Friends would not have been the same without you.’
She continued, ‘Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed,’ adding the hashtag #JamesMichaelTyler and a broken heart emoji.
Memorials: Jennifer Aniston, 52, and Courteney Cox, 57, were among the stars who took to social media Sunday to pay memorial to their late Friends costar James Michael Tyler, who died at 59 at his Los Angeles home on Sunday
Cox, 57, wrote, ‘The size of gratitude you brought into the room and showed every day on set is the size of the gratitude I hold for having known you. Rest In peace James.’
Matt LeBlanc, 54, shared shots of Tyler on the show, writing, ‘We had a lot of laughs buddy. You will be missed. RIP my friend.’
Lisa Kudrow, 58, wrote, ‘James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all.’
A rep for the actor, who played Gunther on the hit NBC series, confirmed the actor’s passing to TMZ earlier Sunday.
The stars, seen at the Friends reunion earlier this year, shared poignant words in the memory of their late costar
Matt LeBlanc shared shots of Tyler on the show, writing, ‘We had a lot of laughs buddy. You will be missed. RIP my friend’
Lisa Kudrow wrote, ‘Thank you for being there for us all’