James Michael Tyler — best known as the manager of “Central Perk” on the hit show “Friends,” Gunther — passed away peacefully at the age of 59-years-old at his home on Sunday.
According to a statement from his representative, Toni Benson, “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,” the statement read.
“Friends” co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane told CNN in a statement that Tyler was a “genuinely kind, sweet man.”
“When he started as an extra on ‘Friends,’ his unique spirit caught our eye and we knew we had to make him a character,” the statement read. “He made Gunther’s unrequited love incredibly relatable. Our heart goes out to his wife, Jennifer Carno.”
“Warner Bros. Television mourns the loss of James Michael Tyler, a beloved actor and integral part of our FRIENDS family,” the “Friends” Twitter account tweeted. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and fans.”
Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel on “Friends,” lead the tributes from her fellow cast members, posting a clip of the series’ final episode in which Gunther finally declares his love for Rachel.
“Friends would not have been the same without you,” she wrote. “Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed.”
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Courteney Cox 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.”
David Schwimmer wrote, “James, thank you for playing such a wonderful, unforgettable role in Friends and for being such a big-hearted gentleman and all-around mensch off-screen. You will be missed, buddy.”
Matt LeBlanc wrote, “We had a lot of laughs buddy. You will be missed. RIP my friend.”
Lisa Kudrow wrote, “James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all.”
“In June, Tyler revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2018 — but it spread. As a result, he suffered fractures in his bones and tumors up and down his spine, leading to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body,” Yahoo! Entertainment reported.
“It’s stage 4 [now], late-stage cancer, so eventually, it’s gonna probably get me,” he said.
“I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve been going through,” he said, urging men to get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in their annual physical. “This is not … an easy process.”
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