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James Michael Tyler, “Gunther” on ‘Friends,’ dead at 59


Actor James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends, has lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was 59.

Friends producer Kevin Bright tweeted the news on Sunday, writing, “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 also posted a tribute, writing, “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.”

Earlier this year, Tyler revealed to NBC’s Today show that his fight against the illness left his lower body paralyzed, keeping him from participating in the recent HBO Max Friends reunion in person. He did appear via a video greeting. 

The actor told Today the cancer was at stage 4, and had spread to his bones. “So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me,” he said.

He also explained his cancer worsened during the pandemic last year.

“I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,” he explained. “So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.”

Some time ago, Tyler told ABC Audio he was “grateful” his character left such an impression on the sitcom.

“I got there, started with one word, and really no storyline whatsoever. You got to say ‘Yeah,"” he recalled.

“I believe the whole like ‘Gunther’s unrequited love for Rachel’ was only supposed to be about one or two episodes, but they kept that story arc for 10 years, which I’m very grateful for.”

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