The actor, who played Central Perk manager Gunther in the hit sitcom, had been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2018, but the disease later spread to his bones. He went public with his diagnosis in June.
According to a statement from his family, Tyler passed away at his home in Los Angeles. “If you met him once you made a friend for life,” it read. “[He] is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, the love of his life.”
Following the news, Jennifer Aniston (who played Rachel Green), Courtney Cox (Monica Bing), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay) and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) shared messages of tribute on their respective Instagram pages.
Aniston – whose character was employed by Gunther in the early seasons of Friends – shared a scene from the show’s final episode, which saw the barista confess his love for Rachel as she prepared to move to Paris.
“Friends would not have been the same without you,” she wrote beneath the clip. “Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed.”
Cox said: “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.”
Elsewhere, LeBlanc posted a screenshot of Gunther serving Joey at the coffee shop counter. “We had a lot of laughs buddy,” he wrote as the caption. “You will be missed. RIP my friend.”
Kudrow added: “James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all.”
David Schwimmer, who portrayed Ross Geller in Friends, later paid tribute. “James, thank you for playing such a wonderful, unforgettable role in Friends and for being such a big hearted gentleman and all around [sic] mensch off screen,” he said. “You will be missed, buddy.”
Tyler campaigned to raise awareness of prostate cancer following his diagnosis, urging those with prostates to get a blood test from the age of 40.
He also appeared in shows such as Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Scrubs and Episodes throughout his career. Earlier this year, Tyler participated in Friends: The Reunion, during which he called his work on the original show “the most memorable 10 years of my life”.
“I could not have imagined just a better experience,” he added. “All these guys were fantastic and just a joy to work with. It felt very, very special.”
The actor’s family described Tyler as “the seventh Friend” in their statement yesterday. Friends producer Kevin Bright, meanwhile, said he was “an incredible person who spent his final days helping others. God bless you James, Gunther lives forever.”