James Michael Tyler “Gunther” dies of cancer

James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler “Gunther” dies of cancer

James Michael Tyler, popular for playing “Gunther” in the hit TV show FRIENDS, passed away at the age of 59 due to prostate cancer. Tyler died at his residence in Los Angeles. He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.

James Michael Tyler announced on NBC’s “Today” show in June, 2021 that he had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in September 2018, which had spread to his bones. The cancer was discovered during a routine physical examination. The cancer was not caught in the early stages and had metastasized since.

“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler explained. “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.”

Said Tyler while opening up about his struggles with cancer.

James Michael Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

James Michael Tyler as Gunther

James Michael Tyler appeared in the fan favourite TV show 150 episodes out of 236 in its 10 years of airing from 1994 to 2004. He played the role of Gunther, manager of the coffee shop “Central Perk”- the café where the gang of friends hung out at.

Gunther was a sarcastic character often showing his funny side while pining for Rachel (Played by Jennifer Aniston) throughout the 10 seasons. He was finally able to confess his feelings to her in the finale of the show.

Tyler was initially cast while working as a barista at the Bourgeois Pig coffee shop in Los Angeles. Tyler got the role of the manager of the coffee shop because he was the only one who knew how to operate a coffee machine, according to sources. He was casted as an extra but then became a regular on the show.

However, he didn’t have a single line of dialogue on the show until he had made 33 appearances, according to the 2019 book, Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a television era, by Saul Austerlitz.


 Other appearances

Tyler donned different characters in many series like “Scrubs”, “Sabrina: The Teenage Witch” and “Modern Music”. Tyler also made an appearance as himself in Matt LeBlanc’s show Episodes in 2011.

James was all set to be physically present at the FRIENDs reunion shot in May. However, he later opted out and made a cameo via a zoom call.

“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,” Tyler 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.'”

Said Tyler while speaking to the ‘Today’ show in June.

Battle with cancer

James Michael Tyler was first diagnosed with prostate cancer while going through a normal examination in 2018. He maintained a silence over his health until June of 2021.

He informed the world of his situation and how he is dealing with stage 4 prostate cancer.

“I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen,” Tyler explained. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number … So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there. Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.'”

Said the actor to TODAY’s Craig Melvin.

After the results came out, he was referred to Dr. Matthew Rettig, a research scientist and oncologist at UCLA. The doctor was able to determine that the illness was genetic, not environmental.

Tyler said that the prognosis was optimistic at first. With a few medications, he was able to lead a normal life. However, the cancer started metastasizing in the onset of pandemic. He missed going to a few tests and that’s when the cancer decided to grow, said Tyler.

Tyler emphasized and requested the young men to get themselves checked clinically for prostate cancer.

“There are other options available to men if they catch it before me,” Tyler said. “Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly checkup, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It’s easily detectable. … If it spreads beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with.”

Said Tyler emphasizing on early detection of cancer.

Reactions on the internet

Warner Bros TV tweeted that it was mourning the loss of “a beloved actor and integral part of our FRIENDS family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues and fans.”

“Friends would not have been the same without you,” Aniston wrote with a broken heart emoji. “Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed.”

Wrote Jennifer Aniston while sharing a clip of “Gunther and Rachel” in the show.

Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and others paid tribute to the late actor.

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