Tributes as Friends star James Michael Tyler loses cancer battle aged 59
Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died aged 59 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, a representative has said.
The star was beloved by millions of fans for his portrayal of Gunther, the quirky coffee shop manager with bleached hair and an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel.
He died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday.
In June he revealed he had prostate cancer, telling a US TV show he was diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease in 2018 which had spread to his bones.
In a statement announcing his death, Tyler’s representatives said: “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 was dubbed by many fans as the “seventh Friend” due to his ubiquity on the series.
While he was frequently seen milling about behind the counter at Central Perk, Gunther was also given plenty of his own memorable lines over the 10-year run of Friends.
After showing his love for Rachel for a decade, Gunther made a long-shot bid to woo the fashionista in the final episode of Friends, when she was preparing to depart for a new life in Paris.
Rachel rejected Gunther’s advances but let him down gently, telling him: “And, and when I’m in a cafe, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I’ll think of you. ”
As well as playing Gunther, Tyler’s other TV roles included teen sitcom Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and medical comedy Scrubs.
Kevin S Bright, an executive producer on Friends, said: “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.”
The official Friends Twitter account said: “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.”
Jennifer Aniston said the show “would not have been the same” without him.
Aniston shared an Instagram post which included a photo of Tyler from the set and a clip of the pair in the final episode as Gunther declares his love for Rachel before being let down gently.
“Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed,” she wrote.
Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.
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