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Friends star James Michael Tyler dead at 59

Friends star James Michael Tyler dead at 59
/ © Cover Media

Friends actor James Michael Tyler has died.

Tyler, best known for his portrayal of Central Perk coffee shop owner Gunther in the TV sitcom, passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, his representative told TMZ. Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago but only went public with the news earlier this year after he appeared via Zoom rather than in person during the Friends: The Reunion special.

"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," his family said in a statement to the publication. "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."

In June, Tyler opened up about his diagnosis during an interview with Today.

"I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones," he said. "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."

The actor shared that at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cancer had spread to his bones and spine, leading to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body.

Explaining why he opted to appear during the special via Zoom, he shared, "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. 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.'"

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