‘Friends’ star James Michael Tyler dies of cancer at age 59

James Michael Tyler, known for playing Gunther on the popular TV sitcom Friends, died Sunday morning from prostate cancer, Page Six reported. He was 59. 

Tyler died peacefully at home in Los Angeles, a representative said.

“A friend for life”

Often called the “seventh friend” by fans of the TV series, Gunther was the awkward, monotone-speaking coffee house manager known for his unrequited love of Rachel. He was the most prevalent recurring character in the beloved show, which ran for 10 seasons before wrapping up in 2004, according to the BBC.

“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,” a representative told Fox News. “If you met him once you made a friend for life.”

His former castmates shared tributes to remember him, with Jennifer Aniston sharing a clip in which Gunther confesses his love to her character. “Friends would not have been the same without you,” Aniston wrote, according to Yahoo. “Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed.”

Courteney Cox, who played Monica on the show, 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 remembered Tyler for “playing such a wonderful, unforgettable role” and being a “big hearted gentleman and all around mesch off screen.”

“A joy to work with”

Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 but did not share the news until June 2021, saying he did not want to put a damper on the Friends reunion in which he appeared earlier this year, Yahoo reported.

He called the original show’s 10-year run the most memorable time of his life.

“I could not have imagined a better experience,” he said during the reunion, according to the BBC. “All these guys were fantastic. It was a joy to work with them. I felt very, very special.”

Toward the end of his life, Tyler advocated for men to receive prostate cancer screenings early, and he continued to perform despite his illness, appearing in two short films and receiving awards for his roles, Fox reported.

He is survived by his wife Jennifer Carno.

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