James Michael Tyler, AKA Gunther From 'Friends,' Had A Final Message For Fans Before He Died
The man known for having "hair brighter than the sun" has sadly passed on; James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for playing Gunther on Friends, died on Sunday at the age of 59.
Gunther, known to many as "the seventh friend" was the bleach-blond coffee shop barista at Central Perk. Though he was originally only hired as a background actor for the first season of Friends, he stood out on set, and he was soon given lines, a name, and even a storyline - his show-long crush on Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Greene.
Tyler was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2018, at the age of 56. His treatments were originally going well, but cancer, unfortunately, spread over the course of the pandemic.
He was able to appear in the recent HBO Max Friends reunion, but only virtually; due to how advanced his cancer was at that point, he decided to cancel his original plans to appear in person on the stage.
"It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn't wanna bring a downer on it, you know? ... I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.'"
Before he died, Tyler went on TODAY to talk about his diagnosis and treatment, and he had a message for those watching, especially men around his age:
"There are other options available to men if they catch it before me," Tyler said. "Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly checkup, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It's easily detectable. ... If it spreads beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with."
Most doctors begin recommending prostate exams for men sometime after they turn 50, but men with a family history or at genetically higher risk for prostate cancer (like black men) should look into getting tested as early as 40.
"Don't give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals. My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday. I did that, May 28th. My goal now is to help save at least one life by coming out with this news."
Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.