Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died at 59 following three-year prostate cancer battle


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.

A rep for the actor, who played Gunther on the hit NBC series, confirmed the actor’s passing 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 in a statement. 

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

His family continued: ‘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 made a friend for life.’

The actor was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and didn’t publicly reveal his battle until earlier this year.

Tyler had appeared on 150 episodes of the hit show during its run from 1994 thru 2004. He had also appeared on shows including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Modern Music, Just Shoot Me! and Scrubs.

Tyler is survived by his wide Jennifer Carno. 

The beloved actor appeared on the Friends reunion special earlier this year

The beloved actor appeared on the Friends reunion special earlier this year 

He was seen opposite David Schwimmer in a 2002 episode of the NBC hit

He was seen opposite David Schwimmer in a 2002 episode of the NBC hit 

Courageous: Tyler last June opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show

Courageous: Tyler last June opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show

Tyler last June opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show.

‘I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,’ he said. ‘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.’

He said that he was diagnosed after a September 2018 checkup in which he registered ‘an extraordinarily high number’ for a ‘prostate-specific antigen.’

‘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,’ he said. ‘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.”‘

The actor was seen performing with Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston on the show

The actor was seen performing with Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston on the show 

The actor, seen in June after a chemotherapy treatment, was a cancer awareness advocate

The actor, seen in June after a chemotherapy treatment, was a cancer awareness advocate 

He said after a year of effective hormone therapy, his cancer spread amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘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. 

‘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

Fans paid tribute to the late actor via social media on Sunday 

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