James Michael Tyler, Gunther on the TV show “Friends,” died at 59
James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as Gunther on “Friends,” has passed away. He was 59 years old at the time. Tyler died of prostate cancer at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, according to his manager, Toni Benson. Tyler was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer for the first time in 2018.
“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,” Benson wrote in a tribute. “Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures.”
. Over the course of the show’s multi-year run, he became the show’s most recurring guest star, portraying Gunther, the Central Perk barista with an unrequited crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). Tyler had appeared briefly in 1990s series like “Just Shoot Me!” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” before being cast as a background character in the second episodes of “Friends” in 1994.
Tyler was cast as a barista at the Bourgeois Pig coffee shop in Los Angeles at the time. According to Saul Austerlitz’s 2019 book, “Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era,” he didn’t have a line of conversation on “Friends” until he had made 33 appearances. Tyler made an appearance in 150 of the 236 episodes.
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