James Michael Tyler, Gunther Actor on ‘Friends,’ Dead at 59

by Samantha Whidden
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James Michael Tyler, who is known for his role on the hit series ‘Friends’ has reportedly died at the age of 59 after battling stage 4 prostate cancer.

According to TMZ, the Friends castmate peacefully passed away in his L.A. on Sunday (October 24th).

His family issued a statement that reads, “The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh Friends), but the hit series Friends, but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband.”

The Friends star revealed his cancer diagnosis earlier this summer. During his interview with TODAY, Tyler stated he has been battling the disease since September 2018.

“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Which had spread to my bones,” the Friends cast member said at the time. “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.”

Tyler also recalled when he was screened for prostate cancer. He saw something wrong.

“I was 56-years-old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific-antigen. That came back at an extraordinarily high number. So 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.”

The Friends star then revealed he started taking hormone therapy, which helped him continue to live a normal life. However, the cancer spread to his bones. It affected his spin and caused paralysis of the lower half of his body.

“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. So it’s progressed.”

James Michael Tyler Shared His Thoughts About ‘Friends’ Throughout the Years

While speaking about Friends on its 25th anniversary, Tyler stated, “I never would have imagined I’d be sitting here 25 years after it began, still talking about [it]. They had the 20th anniversary and the first FriendsFest in the UK. And I retired Gunther. I thought that has to be it. And then it launched on Netflix and, of course, it garnered an entirely new audience of millennials and young people.”

After being notably missed at the Friends reunion, Tyler stated he didn’t go to the event because the cancer diagnosis would have been a big downer. “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.’”

Besides Friends, James Michael Tyler held other TV roles in his amazing career. This includes Just Shoot Me, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Scrubs, and Modern Music. He was in a total of 150 episodes of Friends. 

Outsider.com