‘Thank you for the laughter’: tributes paid to Friends star James Michael Tyler who has died aged 59

Monday, 25th October 2021, 8:52 am
Friends star James Michael Tyler, who played coffee shop manager Gunther in the hit show, has died aged 59 (Getty Images)

Friends star James Michael Tyler, who played coffee shop manager Gunther in the hit show, has died aged 59 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Tyler died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, his representatives said.

In June he revealed he had prostate cancer, telling a US TV show he was diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease in 2018 which had spread to his bones.

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‘If you met him once you made a friend for life’

In a statement announcing his death, Tyler’s representatives 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 ‘seventh Friend’

Tyler was dubbed by many fans as the “seventh Friend” for his portrayal of Gunther, the Central Perk coffee shop manager with bleached hair who had an unrequited love for Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel.

While he was frequently seen milling about behind the counter, Gunther was also given plenty of his own memorable lines over the 10-year run of Friends.

After showing his love for Rachel for a decade, Gunther made a long-shot bid to woo the fashionista in the final episode of Friends, when she was preparing to depart for a new life in Paris.

Rachel rejected Gunther’s advances but let him down gently, telling him: “And, and when I’m in a cafe, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I’ll think of you. ”

Friends stars lead tributes to Tyler

Aniston shared an Instagram post which included a photo of Tyler from the set and a clip of the pair in the final episode as Gunther declares his love for Rachel before being let down gently.

“Friends would not have been the same without you,” the 52-year-old wrote in the post’s caption.

“Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed.”

Co-star Courteney Cox posted the same photo of Tyler in a pink-striped collared shirt and tie to express her “gratitude” to her former co-star.

Cox 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.”

Matt LeBlanc shared the same photo of Tyler as his co-stars, while the actor led with a still of the pair either side of Central Perk’s counter.

“We had a lot of laughs buddy,” LeBlanc wrote in the Instagram post’s caption.

“You will be missed. RIP my friend.”

Actress Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, wrote on Instagram: “James Michael Tyler, we will miss you. Thank you for being there for us all. #jamesmichealtyler”.

As well as playing Gunther, Tyler’s other TV roles included teen sitcom Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and medical comedy Scrubs.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com