Gunther, the Central Perk manager in the iconic comedy F.R.I.E.N.D.S., died at the age of 59. Tyler stated that he had stage 4 prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2018, in a June 2021 interview with NBC.
“The world knew him as Gunther … but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
He made an appearance on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. but was unable to attend the Reunion in person due to health issues.
Appearing instead via Zoom, Tyler said: “It was the most memorable 10 years of my life, honestly. I could not have imagined just a better experience. All these guys were fantastic and just a joy to work with. It felt very, very special.”
Tyler said he didn’t reveal his illness before then because: “I didn’t want it to be like ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer’.”
Due to his constant participation on the successful programme, some have referred to the actor as the “seventh buddy” on social media.
Kevin Bright, the former executive producer of Friends, tweeted: “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.”
Tyler’s death was described as a “very sad day” by Jeffrey Klarik, who co-created and produced the TV series Episodes with Friends actor Matt LeBlanc.
“He was a lovely, lovely man. Today is a very sad day,” the director tweeted.
The official Friends Twitter page passed on a message from Warner Bros. Television Studios, writing: “Warner Bros. Television mourns the loss of James Michael Tyler, a beloved actor and integral part of our F.R.I.E.N.D.S family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.”