Actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as Gunther on Friends, has died after battling stage 4 prostate cancer. He was 59. The actor died at home on Sunday morning, his rep revealed to TMZ.
The sad news comes after the actor spoke about his condition during a June 2021 episode of Today.
“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” he said. “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.”
The Friends star said he received a screening for a “prostate-specific antigen” during a routine checkup in September 2018. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number,” he explained. “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.’”
After further tests, Tyler was diagnosed and referred to a specialist at UCLA. Soon after he began hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year” and allowed him to “go about life regularly.”
Treatment was successful until the cancer spread during the pandemic. He later learned that the disease had spread to his bones, which caused paralysis to the lower half of his body.
“I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing,” Tyler added. “So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed. … 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.”
The actor started chemotherapy to “aggressively” fight the disease after it spread.
Our thoughts are with the actor’s family.