Inside Friends star James Michael Tylers life and tragic death

Millions of TV fans were left shocked when the death of James Michael Tyler, who'd shot to worldwide fame playing Gunther in the hit sitcom Friends, was announced last last year.

Aged only aged 59, a statement from his manager on Sunday, October 24 revealed he'd been battling stage four prostate cancer.

He'd been a firm favourite with viewers of the show during its decade-long reign thanks to his deadpan portrayal of the put-upon barista at the local Central Perk coffee house.

He'd appeared in 150 episodes of the programme and came to be dubbed 'the seventh Friend' by devotees.

At the time of James' death his manager also said, "If you met him once you made a friend for life."

How long had he been ill?

James first shared news of his diagnosis in 2018 after his cancer had spread to his bones.

The announcement stunned fans as he’d just appeared via a Zoom link on the Friends reunion special in September 2021 and had made no mention of it.

The cancer was thought to have been discovered via a routine medical examination when he was 56 years old.

Pals said he'd bravely shared his story in an attempt to help as many people as possible and to encourage men to get their prostate checked.

Speaking on NBC's Today show, James told host Craig Melvin: "I've been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. It's late-stage cancer, so eventually, you know, it's gonna probably get me."

He went on to say that while medical staff were initially optimistic following his diagnosis, his cancer had started "mutating" – a development which wasn't noticed straight away as he'd been forced to miss a check-up due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Courtney Cox, who played Friends' Monica Geller, said in tribute, "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."

Co-star Jennifer Aniston added, "Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed."

David Schwimmer also thanked Tyler in an Instagram post for playing "such a wonderful, unforgettable role," calling him "such a big-hearted gentleman". He finished by writing, "You will be missed, buddy."

In addition, fans flooded social media to pay tribute, with one tweeting: "RIP James Michael Tyler – AKA Gunther – I hope you'll find your Rachel in heaven."

"Central Perk will never be the same again. RIP James Michael Tyler," wrote a second, while a third added, "My heart is actually broken."

Personal life

The youngest of five children, he was born on May 28, 1962,in Greenswood, Mississippi.

He graduated in 1984 with a degree in geology, during which time he'd become involved with a local theatre group called The Clemson Players.

In 1987, he earned his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Georgia before moving to Los Angeles where he started working as a production assistant.

In 1994 he was cast as Gunther on Friends, where he went on to become the show's most-shown recurring character.

Net worth

James had an estimated net worth of around $3million.

He was reportedly paid an increasing amount during time on Friends, with a starting rate estimated to be around £3,600 per episode.

By the time the show reached its seventh season – there were 10 in total – his appearances were said to be earning him around £28,000 a time.

Love life

It's believed James split from his first wife Barbara Chadsey in 2003 after eight years as a married couple, but they didn't get divorced until 2014.

Then, in 2017, he married Jennifer Carno who was described in a statement from his manager at the time of his death as the true love of his life.

He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.

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