Friends Alum James Michael Tyler Dead After Prostate Cancer Battle
23:31 GMT 24.10.2021 (Updated: 12:02 GMT 27.10.2021)
© AP Photo / REED SAXONthe cast of "Friends," from left, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose in the press room with the award for outstanding comedy series at the 54th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles
© AP Photo / REED SAXON
After a three-year battle with prostate cancer, Friends alum James Michael Taylor, 59, has passed away. He reportedly died in the comfort of his home.
The actor had been battling stage-four prostate cancer since September 2018. Taylor was able to continue working the first year following his diagnosis after he responded well to hormone therapy. However, during the pandemic, check-ups became more difficult and the cancer spread to his bones.
Cancer spreading to the bones caused paralysis in the lower half of his body. Aggressive chemotherapy was used to try and stop the spread of cancer, but Tyler knew his time was running out.
In June 2021, on an episode of Today, he said, “It’s stage 4 [now]. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
Tyler passed away at home on Sunday, according to his representatives.
James Michael Tyler was best known for portraying Gunther, a barista and eventual manager of the Central Park coffee shop on the hit TV show Friends. He got his break because he was the only extra on set that knew how to operate an espresso machine. He made his first appearance in the second episode of the show, but it wasn’t until the 33rd episode that his character spoke, and then, all he said was, “yeah.”
As the show continued, his character grew, and his infatuation for Rachel Greene, played by Jennifer Aniston, made him a fan favorite.
Tyler, while not one of the friends on Friends, had the distinction of being the most-featured recurring character on the show, making an appearance in 148 of the 236 episodes of the popular show’s ten-season run.
Tyler was unable to make it to the taping of the Friends reunion due to cancer treatment. The reunion show debuted in May 2021, and Tyler was able to appear via Zoom.
Of not being part of the reunion in person, he said, “I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage. 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.’”
The Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There for You,” rings true as fans and former members of the production expressed their love and sympathy for their favorite fictional barista, Gunther.
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.— Kevin Bright (@kbrightELA) October 24, 2021