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‘Friends’ stars lead tributes to co-star James Michael Tyler who has died aged 59

The actor, who played Gunther on the hit sitcom, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in September 2018

By Hollie Geraghty

James Michael Tyler playing Gunther on 'Friends'
James Michael Tyler was best known for playing Gunther on 'Friends'. (Photo: YouTube).

The cast of ‘Friends’ have shared tributes to actor James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther in the hit sitcom, after his death was announced.

The 59-year-old actor, who played the Central Perk coffee barista, died of prostate cancer on Sunday morning (October 24). He was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in September 2018.

Jennifer Aniston, who plays Rachel and Gunther’s long term romantic crush, shared a post on Instagram paying tribute to the late actor. “Friends would not have been the same without you. Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and all our friends. You will be so missed.” 

She posted the caption with a clip from the show when Gunther confesses his love to Rachel in the series finale along with a picture of the actor. 

Courteney Cox, who portrayed Monica Geller, posted on Instagram: “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.”

Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, also paid tribute to the actor, and shared a still of the two in Central Perk. “We had a lot of laughs buddy. You will be missed. RIP my friend.”

Lisa Kudrow shared a post that read: “James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all.”

The show’s co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane said in a statement: “James was a genuinely kind, sweet man. When he started as an extra on Friends, his unique spirit caught our eye and we knew we had to make him a character. He made Gunther’s unrequited love incredibly relatable. Our heart goes out to his wife, Jennifer Carno.”

A  statement released by his family and shared by TMZ said: “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.

“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.”

The actor kept his cancer diagnosis private for around three years, appearing on ‘Friends: The Reunion’ before sharing that he had prostate cancer that had spread.

In an interview with Today in June, the actor said: “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones.” 

He added: “It’s stage four [now]. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

The actor also campaigned for those with a prostate to get a blood test as early as 40-years-old, according to his manager.

Tyler also acted in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch, ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Modern Music’.