James Michael Tyler who played Gunther on Friends passed away at 59.
The actor died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, October 24 after battling prostate cancer for three years.
During an interview on NBC’s Today in June, he revealed he was diagnosed in September 2018. He said, “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones. I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years…It’s stage 4. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
He added, “I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing. So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.”
Weeks before the interview, the Friends: The Reunion special was aired by HBO. Though the major cast appeared in person, Tyler only made a Zoom appearance. It was the first time he reunited with his co-stars, though some of them remained close after the hit series ended in 2005 after its 10th season. Tyler played Gunther, a coffee shop worker in Central Park, who has a crush on Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston.
After diagnosis, Tyler appeared in two short films namely The Gesture and the Word and Processing. He was able to help raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation through his spoken word performance of “If You Knew” by Stephen Kalinich which was adapted into a short video.
The group’s Facebook page posted, “It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to PCF friend, supporter, advocate, and actor James Michael Tyler (‘Gunther’ on Friends). Michael was first diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2018. In an effort to bravely use the sorrow of his diagnosis to help as many people as possible, Michael became an advocate and a voice for all impacted by cancer.”
Further, “Michael first approached the Prostate Cancer Foundation a few months ago, with an interest in getting the word out: early detection saves lives. Those who have a family history of cancer or are Black should begin a conversation with their doctor about prostate cancer screening at age 40; for everyone else, talk to your doctor at age 45 to request a PSA blood test.”
In June, Tyler shared a video on YouTube, “I accept this. I know this is what’s happened to me. I’m not sitting here crying all the time. I want to save lives. I want to help.”