James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther in 'Friends', dies aged 59

The star, who appeared in 150 episodes of the hit television show, had stage 4 prostate cancer

Actor James Michael Tyler who played coffee shop manager Gunther in 'Friends' died October 24, 2021, at age 59. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

James Michael Tyler, the actor who played Gunther in Friends, has died from stage 4 prostate cancer. He was 59.

The actor died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, his representative confirmed to TMZ.

“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,” his family said.

“Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you had a friend for life.”

The actor was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, however, he only publicly revealed his diagnosis earlier this year.

Speaking of his terminal diagnosis to the Today Show, Tyler 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 4 [now]. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it's going to probably get me."

The actor appeared via video on Friends: The Reunion in May. In the long-running sitcom, he played Gunther, Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) barista colleague at Central Perk. He revealed that he missed the in-person reunion because of his diagnosis.

Of the reunion, Tyler said: "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. It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included.

"It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn't want to bring a downer on it, you know? ... I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.'"

Tyler appeared in 150 episodes of the hit television show during its 10-year run from 1994 to 2004. He also appeared in Scrubs, Just Shoot Me! and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

The official Twitter account for Friends paid tribute to the actor on Sunday. “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,” it said, alongside a coffee cup emoji.

Updated: October 25, 2021, 4:46 AM