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Friends actor James Michael Tyler dies at 59; Anushka Sharma, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc pay tributes

Over Friends' multi-year-run, James Michael Tyler became the most frequently recurring guest star on the series. Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox paid tributes to the late actor on social media sites.

By: AP | New York |
Updated: October 26, 2021 9:00:56 am
James Michael Tyler death, James Michael Tyler diesJames Michael Tyler died at his home in Los Angeles from prostate cancer. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Invision/AP, File)

James Michael Tyler, the actor known widely for his recurring role as Gunther on Friends, has died. He was 59.

Tyler died Sunday at home in Los Angeles from prostate cancer, said his manager, Toni Benson. Tyler was first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018.

“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,” Benson wrote in a tribute. “Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures.”


Matt LeBlanc, Joey on the show, paid tribute to Tyler by sharing photos from the Friends’ set on his Instagram profile. “We had a lot of laughs buddy. You will be missed. RIP my friend,” he wrote in the caption.


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A post shared by Matt LeBlanc (@mleblanc)

Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel in Friends, also dedicated an Instagram post to Tyler. She shared a clip from the show featuring her and Tyler.


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A post shared by Jennifer Aniston (@jenniferaniston)

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.”


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A post shared by Courteney Cox (@courteneycoxofficial)

Lisa Kudrow, Phoebe in Friends, wrote, “James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all. #jamesmichealtyler.”

Anushka Sharma Anushka Sharma shared this Instagram story to express her heartbreak at James Michael Tyler’s death. (Photo: Anushka Sharma/Instagram)

Tyler had appeared briefly in 1990s series like Just Shoot Me! and Sabrina the Teenage Witch before being cast as a background character in the second episodes of Friends in 1994. Over the show’s multi-year-run, he became the most frequently recurring guest star on the series playing Gunther, the Central Perk barista with an unrequited affection for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston).

Tyler was initially cast while working as a barista at the Bourgeois Pig coffee shop in Los Angeles. He didn’t have a line of dialogue on Friends until he had made 33 appearances on the show, according to the 2019 book, “Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era,” by Saul Austerlitz. Over the 236 episodes, Tyler appeared in 150 of them.

Warner Bros. Television, which produced the hit series, mourned the death of Tyler, “a beloved actor and integral part of our Friends’ family.

Once Friends concluded in 2004, Tyler made appearances on Scrubs, Modern Music and he played himself on an episode of Matt LeBlanc’s Episodes in 2012.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Tyler starred in two short films while undergoing treatment and gave a spoken word performance of the Stephan Kalinich poem “If You Knew” to help raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

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