Friends star James Michael Tyler has died aged 59 after a prostate cancer diagnosis.
The actor, who played Gunther in the hit sitcom, was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 but did not share his diagnosis until June of this year after cancer spread to his bones.
James’ rep confirmed to TMZ that he passed away on Sunday morning at his home in L.A.
His family said in a statement: “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.”
James shared his cancer diagnosis in June, telling the TODAY show: “I’m here to let you know that in September of 2018, 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 (now). Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
James said he wanted to “save just one life” by telling his story, adding: “That’s my only reason for coming out like this and letting people know. That’s my new role.”
“A lot of men, if they catch this early, it’s easily treatable. I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve been going through. This is not … an easy process.”
“Don’t give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals,” he urged. “My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday. I did that, May 28th. My goal now is to help save at least one life by coming out with this news.”
James also revealed he couldn’t attend the Friends reunion, which aired on HBO Max earlier that month, in person due to his diagnosis – so he attended the event via video call instead.
“I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities,” he said.
“It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? … I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”