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James Michael Tyler aka 'Gunther' from Friends has died, aged 59

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James Michael Tyler, the actor known widely for his recurring role as Gunther on the hit US sitcom Friends, has died aged 59.

Tyler died on Sunday at home in Los Angeles from prostate cancer, his manager Toni Benson says.

Tyler was first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018.

"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," Benson wrote in a tribute.

Tyler, who also appeared briefly in 1990s series such as Just Shoot Me! and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, was cast as a background character in the second episodes of Friends in 1994.

During the show's 10-year-run, he became the most frequently recurring guest star on the series playing Gunther, the Central Perk barista with an unrequited affection for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston).

Tyler was initially cast while working as a barista at the Bourgeois Pig coffee shop in Los Angeles.

He didn't have a line of dialogue on Friends until he had made 33 appearances on the show. During its 236 episodes, Tyler appeared in 150 of them.

Warner Bros Television, which produced the hit series, mourned the death of Tyler, "a beloved actor and integral part of our Friends family".

Once Friends concluded in 2004, Tyler made appearances on Scrubs, Modern Music and he played himself on an episode of Matt LeBlanc's Episodes in 2012 

After being diagnosed with cancer, Tyler starred in two short films while undergoing treatment and gave a spoken-word performance of the Stephan Kalinich poem If You Knew to help raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

 

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Image (Matt Crossick / PA)