James Michael Tyler, famous for his portrayal of Gunther on the hit showFriends, has sadly passed away, aged 59.
According to TMZ, the star died peacefully in his Los Angeles home on Sunday morning after a long battle with stage four prostate cancer.
Tyler’s family released a statement to the celebrity news outlet saying: ‘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.
One of Friends’ most loved minor characters
The beloved Central Perk barista was known for his hopeless pining over Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel and his hilariously quick-witted and often self-deprecating lines. Gunter was only supposed to be featured on the show as an extra, but Gunther ended up as a larger role as James Michael Tyler was the only one who knew how to use the coffee machine.
However, James did not appear in the reunion special as he didn’t want his cancer diagnosis to be a ‘downer.’ He revealed on NBC’s Today Show:
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 added: ‘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.’
James Michael Tyler kept his cancer battle under wraps for years
James Michael Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2018 but kept his diagnosis away from the public for three years while he underwent chemotherapy.
He finally spoke out about his health issues in June on the Today Show. He told 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.
He then explained that he had missed an appointment around the time of the pandemic, later finding out the cancer had spread:
I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing. The cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic and so it's progressed.
Tyler then explained that usually, if caught, early prostate cancer is easily treatable, and he didn’t ‘want people to have to go through what I've been going through. This is not … an easy process.’
It's made me, personally, just realise how important every moment is, every day. And fighting. Don't give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals.