Movies & TV / News

James Michael Tyler, Gunther on Friends, Passes Away

October 24, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler, who became one of Friends’ most iconic recurring characters as Gunther, has passed away. Deadline has confirmed that Tyler passed away on Sunday in his Los Angeles home after battling stage 4 prostate cancer. He was 59 years old.

Tyler began his show business career after college, where he had initially earned a degree in geology before his involvement in the student theater group the Clemson Players caused him to seek out an acting career. He began work in Los Angeles as a production assistant and film editor, and had a role in a 1992 short film before he found fame by being cast as Gunther, the barista at Central Perk, in Friends. The character was known for having an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel.

Tyler played the role for 148 of Friends’ 236 episodes, the most of any recurring role, and became a fan favorite. He made an appearance in the Friends reunion special that released on HBO Max this year.

Tyler would go on to have guest roles in shows like Scrubs, Episodes and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He discussed his struggles with cancer, which was originally diagnosed in 2018, earlier this year and continued to perform throughout his treatment with roles in two short films. His spoken word performance of Stephen Kalinich’s poem “If You Knew” was adapted into a video to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer Foundation earlier this year.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Tyler. He will be missed.