On Sunday, the Friends community learned of the passing of James Michael Tyler, who portrayed Gunther in the classic sitcom. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, Taylor revealed over the summer that the "late-stage cancer" had spread to his bones and spine, resulting in paralysis of his lower body. The actor passed away peacefully at his Los Angeles home on Sunday at the age of 59 and is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno. Considered by millions of fans of the sitcom as the unofficial "Seventh 'Friend'," Tyler first appeared as the Central Perk barista with the crush on Jennifer Aniston's Rachel in 1994. He would go on to appear in 50+ episodes through the 2004 series finale and returned this past May to make a virtual appearance at HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion. Over the course of his career, Tyler would also appear on NBC's Just Shoot Me!, ABC's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, NBC's Scrubs, and Showtime & BBC Two's Episodes (to name just a few). Even while undergoing cancer treatment, Tyler would go on to star in two short films (The Gesture and the Word & Processing) as well as a spoken word performance of Stephen Kalinich's poem "If You Knew" that was adapted into a short video to help raise awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Back in 2019, Tyler was asked about his five favorite "Gunther" moments from the classic sitcom. "This was David Schwimmer's idea in the spur of the moment, actually," Tyler says of this classic coffee house moment in "The One Where Emma Cries" where Ross accidentally punches a pole instead of Joey. "The way the camera was set up, I was in the background and originally, I was expressing 'Oh, what just happened?' shock. Then David turned to me and said, 'Oh my gosh, you should grin ear-to-ear because you hate me.' I thought it was brilliant." Here's a look at the official tweet from the Friends account confirming Tyler's passing.