James Michael Tyler, the actor who played the barista Gunther on the hit sitcom Friends, died of prostate cancer on Sunday, October 24. He was 59.
His death was confirmed by manager Toni Benson. “The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh ‘Friend’)”, Benson said in a statement as released by NPR. “But Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband.”
Tyler was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018.
Gunther, Tyler’s character in Friends, was best known as the barista at Central Perk, where the main cast usually hang out, who has an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Greene.
Tyler was an actual barista at a Los Angeles coffee shop when he was cast in 1994 to be a background character for the sitcom. He then became a recurring character in the series, appearing in a total of 150 episodes of the show’s total of 236 episodes.
Following the announcement of his death, Friends’ official social media accounts paid tribute to Tyler. “Warner Bros. Television mourns the loss of James Michael Tyler, a beloved actor and integral part of our Friends family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and fans,” they wrote.
In May 2021, Tyler made a virtual appearance during the HBO Max’s Friends: The Reunion. “It was the most memorable 10 years of my life, honestly. I could not have imagined just a better experience. All of these guys were fantastic. It was just a joy to work with them,” he said then.
Aside from Friends, Tyler also acted on the series Scrubs, Just Shoot Me!, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and films The Gesture and the Word and Processing. – Rappler.com