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Friends actor James Michael Tyler dies aged 59 after cancer diagnosis

·3-min read

Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died aged 59 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, a representative has said.

The star was beloved by millions of fans for his portrayal of Gunther, the quirky coffee shop manager with bleached hair and an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel.

Tyler died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, his representatives said.

James Michael Tyler UK premiere of Harry Potter
Actor James Michael Tyler – who played Gunther in Friends – has died aged 59, his representatives have said (Ian West/PA)

In June he revealed he had prostate cancer, telling a US TV show he was diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease in 2018 which had spread to his bones.

In a statement announcing his death, Tyler’s representatives said: “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 his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures.

“If you met him once you made a friend for life.”

Tyler was dubbed by many fans as the “seventh Friend” due to his ubiquity on the series.

While he was frequently seen milling about behind the counter at Central Perk, Gunther was also given plenty of his own memorable lines over the 10-year run of Friends.

After showing his love for Rachel for a decade, Gunther made a long-shot bid to woo the fashionista in the final episode of Friends, when she was preparing to depart for a new life in Paris.

Rachel rejected Gunther’s advances but let him down gently, telling him: “And, and when I’m in a cafe, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I’ll think of you. ”

As well as playing Gunther, Tyler’s other TV roles included teen sitcom Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and medical comedy Scrubs.

Tributes were paid following his death.

Kevin S Bright, an executive producer on Friends, said: “James Michael Tyler Our Gunther passed away last night. He was an incredible person who spent his final days helping others. God bless you James, Gunther lives forever.”

The official Friends Twitter account said: “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.”

In 2021, Tyler’s spoken word performance of Stephen Kalinich’s poem If You Knew was adapted into a short video to raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

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