James Michael Tyler died earlier today (October 24), representatives for the actor have confirmed.
The star had been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2018, but the disease later spread to his bones. He was 59 years old.
Tyler was best known for playing Central Perk manager Gunther in the hit sitcom Friends and appeared in 150 episodes of the show.
According to a statement from his family, the actor died at his home in Los Angeles this morning. “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.”
It added: “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.”
In his career, the star also appeared in the likes of Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Scrubs, Episodes and more. He also made a brief appearance in Friends: The Reunion earlier this year, 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.”
Earlier this year, Tyler made his cancer diagnosis public and campaigned to raise awareness of prostate cancer, urging those with prostates to get a blood test from the age of 40.
Fans and friends have begun paying tribute to the actor on social media. Friends producer Kevin Bright tweeted: “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.”
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.
— Kevin Bright (@kbrightELA) October 24, 2021
“A background character who became so important,” wrote one Twitter user.
RIP James Michael Tyler.
A background character who became so important. 😢 pic.twitter.com/HAC3Rc78pO
— Adam Leason (@AdamLeason) October 24, 2021
“He brought so much joy and laughter as Gunther on Friends with his honestly, perfect timing and wit,” added another. “He will always be remembered for this iconic character but also as such a lovely person separate from that role.”
RIP James Michael Tyler 😔 he brought so much joy and laughter as Gunther on Friends with his honestly, perfect timing and wit 😌 He will always be remembered for this iconic character but also as such a lovely person separate from that role 💫 https://t.co/hWtOBYX7HX
— Katieee ⍟ ⧗ ४ ᗢ ✪ ⩔ (@enduplikethis) October 24, 2021
See more tributes below.
One of the all time great bit parts in my all time favorite show.
Gunther was an integral part of ‘Friends’.
— Luke P Gavin ❤️💙🏆 (@LukePGavin) October 24, 2021
Central Perk will never be the same again.
RIP JAMES MICHAEL TYLER x
— Mark McAdam (@markmcadamtv) October 24, 2021
rest in peace to james michael tyler. thank you for sharing your talent and making millions of people across the world laugh as gunther.
we will never forget you 🤍 pic.twitter.com/9KEWIY9iZ9
— lori megan 🎃🖤 (@lorimeganxo) October 24, 2021
Central Perk is officially closed for good. RIP James Michael Tyler. pic.twitter.com/5IRNYoBWOZ
— AJ Mass (@AJMass) October 24, 2021
god my heart just broke in half. rest in peace james michael tyler, we will miss you. the world is so lucky to continue to live in a world where gunther exists.🕊 pic.twitter.com/IGTXqtF1WA
— aj (@anjanaeeee) October 24, 2021