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Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died at 59 at his Los Angeles home on Sunday, following a three-year battle with stage four prostate cancer. A representative for the actor, who played Gunther on the hit NBC series throughout its 10 series, confirmed the actor’s tragic passing to TMZ.
His family said in a statement: ‘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 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 was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and didn’t publicly reveal his battle until earlier this year. Tyler appeared on 150 episodes of the hit show during its run from 1994 up until 2004. He had also appeared on shows including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Modern Music, Episodes, Just Shoot Me! and Scrubs.
Tyler is survived by his wife Jennifer Carno. In June, the star first opened up about the details of his cancer battle appearing on the Today show.
He said: ‘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 four. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.’
He said that he was diagnosed after a September 2018 checkup in which he registered ‘an extraordinarily high number’ for a ‘prostate-specific antigen.’
He said: ‘I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there…
‘Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said, “Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.”‘
He said after a year of effective hormone therapy, his cancer spread amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: ‘I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing. So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.’
Tyler appeared on the Friends reunion special on HBO Max this past May via Zoom.
He said: ‘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. I was very happy to be included.
He said: ‘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.”