How did Gunther from ‘Friends’ die? James Michael Tyler, 59, was paralyzed waist down
James Michael Tyler, an actor who was best known for playing Gunther on ‘Friends’, died on Sunday, October 24. He was battling cancer since 2018. The beloved actor breathed his last at his home in Los Angeles. He was 59. The unfortunate news of his demise was shared by his manager. Tyler is survived by his wife Jennifer Carno. Tyler's character was known for having a crush on Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Green in the hit NBC sitcom ‘Friends’. He gained a huge fan following despite having very few dialogues on the show.
According to TMZ, Tyler’s family paid their last tributes to the actor in a statement saying, “The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh "Friend"), from the hit series "Friends," but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband." The statement further read, “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." Some among the star cast of ‘Friends’ i.e. Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox, and David Schwimmer also paid their final respects to Tyler. The late actor appeared in over 150 episodes of ‘Friends’.
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How did James Michael Tyler die?
Tyler died peacefully at his home on Sunday morning, Oct 24. The actor lost his battle with stage 4 prostate cancer. It, unfortunately, left the actor paralyzed below the waist. He had first revealed his cancer diagnosis in early 2021 that left his fans and followers in shock. Tyler, who could not make it to the ‘Friends’ reunion special had revealed that he first got the diagnosis back in 2018 but kept it a secret for three years.
Tyler via a zoom call in June had revealed about his battle with cancer as the reason why he could not physically attend the Friends’ reunion special in May. According to BBC, he 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." Apart from ‘Friends’, Tyler also worked on other shows such as ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘Modern Music’’ and ‘Just Shoot Me!’ among others. Tyler while going under treatment starred in two short films ‘The Gesture and the Word’, and ‘Processing’ for which he won several accolades at various film festivals.
‘Friends’ cast remembers Gunther
Jennifer Aniston shared an iconic scene of theirs where Gunther had expressed his emotions towards Aniston’s ‘Friends’ character Rachel. She captioned the post as, “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 #JamesMichaelTyler” followed by an emoticon of heartbreak. She also shared a picture of the late actor in the same slide.
Cox, who played Monica Geller on the hit NBC sitcom, too paid her final tributes to Tyler. Whilst sharing a similar photo as that of Aniston, Cox on Instagram wrote, “The size of gratitude you brought into the room and showed every day on set is the size of the gratitude I hold for having known you. Rest In peace James” followed by an emoji of a black heart. Kudrow, who portrayed Phoebe Buffay on the show, also shared her last respect for the actor on social media. "James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all." Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are yet to pay their condolences to Tyler.
‘What he achieved on Friends was incredible’
Tributes poured in on social media for the late actor as fans got to know about his sudden demise. “Thank you James for making me smile nearly everyday since 1994 and you will continue to make me smile for many for more years. Sleep tight. Another star in our sky to brighten our nights”, said one fan as another posted, “So so sad. I absolutely loved his character and I understand he was a wonderful man. God bless him.”
Meanwhile, one shared, “So sad to hear this, Folded hands RIP. Thank you for all the great memories.” The next one added, “Fly High! You were one of my favorites in Friends! I’m sure you are going to be a star in Heaven!” One user tweeted, “This breaks my heart. James Michael Tyler was incredibly talented and never, ever failed to make me laugh as Gunther. Another added, “This is such a shame. My heart goes out to his loved ones. He will be greatly missed.” And, one concluded, “What he achieved on Friends was incredible, from a non speaking role still working as a barista, to a regular who stole our hearts.”
Thank you James for making me smile nearly everyday since 1994 and you will continue to make me smile for many for more years. Sleep tight. Another star in our sky to brighten our nights 💙💙💙— Hollie Maria Price (@HollieMissy) October 24, 2021
So so sad. I absolutely loved his character and I understand he was a wonderful man. God bless him.— David Em (@DavidEm94929134) October 24, 2021
So sad to hear this, 🙏 RIP. Thank you for all the great memories ❤— Anthonyyy (@APrignoli) October 24, 2021
Fly High! You were one of my favorites in Friends! I’m sure you are going to be a star in Heaven! 🕊— christine brown (@1962christine) October 24, 2021
This breaks my heart. James Michael Tyler was incredibly talented and never, ever failed to make me laugh as Gunther. This is such a shame. My heart goes out to his loved ones. He will be greatly missed.— PerchanceToDream (@PerchanceDream) October 24, 2021
What he achieved on Friends was incredible, from a non speaking role still working as a barista, to a regular who stole our hearts.— Hermine (@chronicMena) October 24, 2021