James Michael Tyler death: ‘Friends’ star who played Gunther dies from cancer, aged 59

‘If you met him once you made a friend for life,’ family says of actor

Harriet Sinclair
Monday 25 October 2021 11:19
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'Friends' Star James Michael Tyler Reveals Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis | THR News

James Michael Tyler, who played the beloved character Gunther on Friends, has died aged 59.

The actor had been battling prostate cancer since 2018 and died at his home in LA on Sunday, his manager confirmed to TMZ.

In a statement, his family 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] is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, the love of his life.”

Tyler spent 10 years in the recurring role of Gunther on Friends, also appearing in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Scrubs, Episodes, and Modern Music, among others.

Tyler kept his diagnosis a secret from the public for around three years, before revealing that he had prostate cancer that had spread.

“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler said in a June interview with Today. “I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years ... It’s stage four (now). Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

After his initial diagnosis, which was discovered during an annual check-up, Tyler said he had been given hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year”, but that the cancer had spread around the time the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

He also appealed to men to get regular prostate checks, saying: “There are other options available to men if they catch it before me. Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly check-up, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It’s easily detectable.”

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Despite being a key member of the Friends cast, Tyler did not appear in person in the reunion, telling Today that he did not want his illness to be a “downer” during the special.

“I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities,” he said.

“It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, 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.’”

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