James Michael Tyler, best known for playing Gunther in the hit sitcom Friends, has died peacefully in his sleep today after battling stage 4 prostate cancer. His family confirmed the news in a statement today as they mourned their loss.
They typed: “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. If you met him once you made a friend for life.”
The actor played coffee shop worker Gunther in the popular sitcom alongside David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, and Matthew Perry.
Gunther was one of the most loved minor characters in Friends and he often starred in scenes with the big names of the show as the barista at Central Perk coffee shop – where the gang would hang out.
Tyler was only originally cast as an extra but ended up with a bigger role, as he was the only one who knew how to use the coffee machine.
He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018, but kept his diagnosis private for three years as he underwent chemotherapy to try and beat his cancer.
In June, Tyler spoke about his devastating health issues on NBC’s Today show.
He told TV host Craig Melvin: “‘I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones.
“I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. It’s stage 4 (now). Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
The TV actor said that doctors were optimistic when he was first diagnosed but the cancer started “mutating” after he missed an appointment and test amid the pandemic.
He explained: ‘I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing.
Tyler continued: “The cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic and so it’s progressed.”