James Michael Tyler, the actor who famously played Gunther in Friends, has died at the age of 59 following a battle with cancer.
The screen star, who was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2018, died peacefully in his sleep, his family has confirmed.
‘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,’ the family’s statement reads.
‘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.’
Last June, James opened up about his cancer diagnosis, which he had kept private for three years, in a moving interview on the Today Show in the US. At the time, he shared that he was in the final stages of his treatment.
‘I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,’ he told host Craig Melvin. ‘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.’
Tyler explained that the illness was first caught during an annual checkup: ‘I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen. 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.”‘
Further testing revealed Tyler was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Genetic testing showed his illness was genetic rather than being caused by the environment.
Initially, a hormone therapy ‘worked amazingly for about a year,’ allowing him to ‘go about life regularly’ while taking a regimen of three drugs.
‘All I had to do was take a pill in the morning and the night, and boom, life was pretty much normal,’ Tyler explained.
While he had felt fine initially, James’ health soon seriously degenerated to the point where the cancer spread to his bones and spine, leading to the paralysis of his lower body.
Tyler explained that the cancer mutated ‘right at the time of the pandemic.’
‘I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,’ Tyler said. ‘So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.’
At the time of the Today Show interview, Tyler was undergoing chemotherapy which was ‘aggressively’ fighting the cancer.Internet Explorer Channel Network