Actor James Michael Tyler, known for his portrayal of Gunther on ‘Friends’, died of prostate cancer, his manager confirmed. He was 59. Tyler died peacefully in his Los Angeles home, reports variety.com.
The actor was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in September 2018. Tyler shared his story earlier this year on ‘Today’. He also worked as a campaigner for individuals with prostates to get a first blood test as early as 40 years old.
“Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate and loving husband,” his manager said in a statement.
“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.”
“Warner Bros. Television mourns the loss of James Michael Tyler, a beloved actor and integral part of our FRIENDS family,” reads a post on the official ‘Friends’ Twitter account.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and fans.”
Tyler was most well-known for his performance as Gunther, a worker at the Central Perk cafe who reserves an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel, on the wildly popular sitcom.
Dubbed by many as “the seventh ‘Friend'”, the actor was a series mainstay, first appearing as a background character in the second episode of ‘Friends’ and returning as a guest star across the remainder of its 10-year run.
He is the most frequently recurring guest star across the series. Tyler also made an appearance via a video conference on the special ‘Friends: The Reunion’ earlier this year.
Beyond ‘Friends’, Tyler’s acting credits stretch back to 1992, including series like ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Modern Music’.
While undergoing treatment, he continued to perform, starring in two short films ‘The Gesture and the Word’ and ‘Processing’, which earned him best actor awards at several domestic and international film festivals.
This year, Tyler’s spoken word performance of Stephan Kalinich’s poem ‘If You Knew’ was adapted into a short video to help raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.