James Michael Tyler, who was best known for playing the cafe worker Gunther in “Friends,” died of cancer on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 59.
“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 to TMZ. “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.”
Tyler said earlier this year that he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018, which had spread to his bones. He kept his diagnosis private for several years, but made the announcement shortly after he appeared via video during the “Friends” reunion special.
He later went on to encourage awareness about prostate cancer, sharing his experience with chemotherapy on Instagram and urging his followers to get screened for the illness.
As Gunther, Tyler appeared in 150 episodes and had a perpetual crush on Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel. He never revealed his true feelings to her until the series finale.
“It was the most memorable 10 years of my life, honestly,” he said at the time of the reunion. “All these guys were fantastic and just a joy to work with. It felt very, very special.”
Tyler also appeared in several other sitcoms, including “Scrubs,” “Just Shoot Me!” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”
He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.