James Michael Tyler, who played Central Perk manager Gunther on the long-running sitcom Friends, has passed away following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 59.
A statement from his family reads, “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.”
Tyler only revealed his diagnosis earlier this year, after appearing in the Friends reunion special via Zoom. He told Today that he chose to appear via Zoom rather than sit on the couch with the rest of the cast, “because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.'”
At the time, he also revealed that the cancer had spread to his bones, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. He was initially diagnosed in September 2018.
Tributes flooded social media as the news broke, including one from the official Friends Twitter account that described Tyler as “a beloved actor and integral part of our FRIENDS family. Jeffrey Klarik, co-creator of Episodes and partner of Friends creator David Crane, tweeted that Tyler was a “was a lovely, lovely man.”
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. ❤️☕️ pic.twitter.com/9coGnT5BHz
— FRIENDS (@FriendsTV) October 24, 2021
One social media user shared a quote from the show itself, that in hindsight feels like a very fitting tribute. It’s spoken by Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Green as she’s politely rejecting Gunther’s advances, and she says, “And, and when I’m in a café, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I’ll think of you.”
While Tyler is best known for his work on Friends, owing to his appearance in 150 episodes, he also appeared in several popular shows throughout his career, including Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Scrubs, and Just Shoot Me.
Image: Warner Bros. Television
This article first appeared on Over60.