Farewell, Gunther: ‘Seventh Friend’ James Michael Tyler Loses Battle With Cancer

(source: ABC News)

James Michael Tyler, the actor who played the beloved character Gunther on the iconic American sitcom Friends, has passed away yesterday, 24 October.

In a statement from his manager, the 59-year-old was said to have passed in his own home in Los Angeles, California in the early hours on Sunday. He is survived by his wife Jennifer Carno, with whom the couple have no children.

It was reported that his passing was due to Stage 4 prostrate cancer – of which he was diagnosed in 2018 – but only publicly revealed earlier this year, shortly after the Friends: The Reunion special was released.

(source: Screenrant)

In the show, Gunther manages the coffeeshop Central Perk, where main character Rachel Greene (famously played by Jennifer Aniston) works as a waitress in the early seasons. Gunther develops unreturned feelings for Rachel, which serves as one of the most beloved running gags of the whole Friends franchise.

“I believe the whole like ‘Gunther’s unrequited love for Rachel’ bit 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,” related James in a 2019 interview.

The character would then appear in a staggering 148 episodes of Friends, making him the show’s most frequently appearing character apart from the main cast of six.

(source: HBO)

James had earlier this year revealed that the cancer left him paralysed from the waist down, thus preventing him from featuring prominently in the Friends reunion special. He did make a special cameo appearance via Zoom, however.

In the same interview, the actor also said his condition worsened due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“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, and so it’s progressed.

“The cancer has spread to my bones, so eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

James as he appeared on Friends: The Reunion. (source: HBO)

Tributes have been pouring through since the announcement of his passing.

“He was an incredible person who spent his final days helping others. God bless you James, Gunther lives forever,” tweeted Friends co-creator Kevin Bright.

Courtney Cox, who played Monica, wrote on Instagram: “The size of gratitude you brought into the room and showed ever day on set is the size of gratitude I hold for having known you. Rest in peace, James.”

 

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And perhaps most fittingly, Jennifer too posted a heartfelt post celebrating James, accompanied by a scene from the final episode, in which Gunther finally professes his love for Rachel.

“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 #JamesMichaelTaylor.”

 

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