Celebrity News October 24, 2021
James Michael Tyler, Gunther from 'Friends,' Dead of Cancer at 59
James Michael Tyler, who as Rachel-smitten Central Perk server Gunther was a shadow seventh member of the "Friends" cast, has died after battling cancer. He was 59.
TMZ reported his death, noting he died peacefully at home in L.A. of prostate cancer, which he had battled since 2018.
In a statement, his family said, "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."
Tyler had announced his cancer diagnosis earlier this year after appearing on the high-rated "Friends" reunion special.
Born May 28, 1962, in Winona, Mississippi, he grew up in South Carolina. The acting bug bit in college at Clemson University. After moving to L.A. and working odd jobs, "Friends" was one of the very first jobs he booked — and he has said he had a leg up by being the only actor going up for it who already knew how to work a cappuccino machine.
His trademark bleached-blond hair was the result of a friend's experimentation the day before his audition, but producers liked it so it stuck.
The role of Gunther was initially meant to be little more than that of an extra, but the writers worked the actor's deadpan humor into the show, setting him up as an unrequited love interest for Jennifer Aniston's oblivious Rachel. He went on to appear on 150 episodes of the iconic hit.
Tyler, who went by Michael, also guested on shows like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" (2001), "Scrubs" (2005), and on "Friends" co-star Matt LeBlanc's "Episodes," playing himself on a 2012 installment of that inside-Hollywood series.
He was a regular on the short-lived "Modern Music" in 2013.
Tyler is survived by his second wife, Jennifer Carno.