James Michael Tyler
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 16: Actor James Michael Tyler attends the Central Perk Pop-Up Celebrating The 20th Anniversary Of “Friends” on September 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

James Michael Tyler – the beloved star who played Gunther on American sitcom, Friendssadly died at the weekend aged 59. According to Associated Pressthe actor passed away on Sunday at his Los Angeles home due to stage 4 prostate cancer. He was first diagnosed with the illness in 2018.

Tyler’s manager, Toni Benson, released a statement overnight honouring the late actor.

“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,” Benson wrote. “Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures.”

Gunther James Michael Tyler
Credit: Warner Bros.

Tyler was famously known as Gunther, the Central Perk barista who had a long-standing crush on lead character, Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston). Over ten seasons of Friends he became the most frequently recurring guest star. It’s a pretty impressive title given he wasn’t a professional actor before the role.

In June he disclosed his battle with cancer which left him paralysed below the waist and unable to attend the highly-publicised Friends reunion.

Aniston responded to the devastating news on Instagram, revisiting a scene the pair filmed together. Her caption read, “Friends would not have been the same without you. Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed #JamesMichaelTyler.”


On Twitter, the official account for the Warner Bros. series published a tribute.

“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.”

Fans are also mourning the loss. Many of which are revisiting Rachel’s final words to Gunther on the series: “When I’m in a café, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I’ll think of you.”

It comes just weeks after Sex and the City actor Willie Garson passed away at age 57, also due to cancer. He played the role of Stanford Blatch and one of Carrie Bradshaw’s best friends. He was in the midst of filming the series reboot, And Just Like That. 

RIP, James Michael Tyler and Willie Garson.