James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler
James Michael Tyler.jpg
Born(1962-05-28)May 28, 1962
DiedOctober 24, 2021(2021-10-24) (aged 59)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1994–2021
Notable credit(s)
Gunther in Friends (1994–2004)
Barbara Chadsey
(m. 1995, divorced)
Jennifer Carno
(m. 2017)

James Michael Tyler (May 28, 1962 – October 24, 2021) was an American actor best known for his role as Gunther on the NBC sitcom Friends.[5] Prior to acting, Tyler was an assistant film editor and production assistant.[1] His early works included being the production assistant for Fat Man and Little Boy. He also portrayed Oscar Bevins in the 1997 thriller film Motel Blue.

Early life

James Michael Tyler was born the youngest of five children on May 28, 1962, in either Greenwood, Mississippi[1][2][6] or Winona, Mississippi.[3][4]

When he was 10 years old, his father, a former USAF captain, died and when he was 11 years old, his mother died. Afterwards, Tyler moved to Anderson, South Carolina to live with his sister.[3][7][1] Tyler graduated from T.L. Hanna High School in 1980.[8]

He graduated from Anderson College (now Anderson University) with a two-year degree in 1982 and Clemson University with a degree in geology in 1984. During his time at Clemson, he was a member of a student theatre group, the Clemson Players. This experience sparked his interest in becoming an actor. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia in 1987.[6][2][7][3]


In 1988, he moved to Los Angeles and became an assistant film editor and production assistant.[1] The same year, he was a production assistant on the film Fat Man and Little Boy.[2] In L.A., he also worked at Guitar Center and the Bourgeois Pig.[3]

He supported the Lili Claire Foundation and AIDS Project Los Angeles charities.[4]

From 1994 to 2004, James Michael Tyler played Gunther on the sitcom Friends. Gunther was a coffee shop worker at Central Perk who had unrequited love for Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston. This led to a ten-year career with appearances in 148 of Friends' 236 episodes; he is the show's most-frequently-appearing recurring character actor.[4][2]

In honor of Friends' 15th anniversary in 2009, Tyler officially opened the temporary Central Perk pop up replica in London. It was open for two weeks from September to October and fans could apply for tickets to receive a free coffee and see memorabilia from the show.[9] He appeared in the unaired pilot satire sitcom Nobody's Watching, playing himself on the set of Central Perk.[4]

In honor of Friends' 20th anniversary in 2014, Tyler made appearances at a Central Perk replica in SoHo.[10]

Tyler appeared in the BBC/Showtime sitcom Episodes (Series 2, Episode 6) as himself playing an ice hockey coach, when Matt LeBlanc tries unsuccessfully to get the other main stars from Friends to appear in the promotional video for the fictional television show Pucks.[11][12][13]

Personal life

In 1995, Tyler married Barbara Chadsey. The couple separated in 2003, and in 2014, he filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[14] He later married Jennifer Carno in 2017.[15][16][17]


Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, but did not publicly disclose his illness until June 2021, shortly after the release of Friends: The Reunion.[18] The cancer metastasized to his spine, leading him to use a wheelchair. He died from the disease at his home in Los Angeles on October 24, 2021, at the age of 59.[19][15][20]


In addition to the below, Tyler narrated and hosted the 2005 game Friends: The One with All the Trivia, along with the 2005 DVD board game Friends: Scene It?[21][22]


Year Film Role Notes
1992 The Roommate[6] Bar Patron First credited role, short film
1997 Motel Blue[23][24] Oscar Bevins
1997 The Disturbance at Dinner[23] Wilson Pomade
1999 Foreign Correspondents[24] Randy
2009 Jason's Big Problem[24] Blane
2020 Processing[25] Frank Brandt Short film
2020 The Gesture and The Word[25] Gilbert Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1994–2004 Friends[24][26] Gunther Recurring role, 148 episodes
2000 Just Shoot Me![24][26] Doctor Episode: "Donnie Returns"
2001 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch[24] Ethan Episode: "My Best Shot"
2004 Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters[13] Judge Episode: Morimoto/Flay VS. Sakai/Batali
2005 Scrubs[24][26] Therapist Episode: "My Faith in Humanity"
2005 Nobody's Watching[4] Himself Unaired pilot
2010 Keeping up with the Downs[27] Chase Made for TV short film
2012 Episodes[11][12][13] Himself Episode Six, Season Two
2013 Modern Music[13] Chad Levitz Main role, 5 episodes (Web series)
2021 Friends: The Reunion[24] Himself HBO Max Special

Music video

Year Title Artist
2007 "Come Tomorrow"[12] Chicane

If You Knew

In July 2021, producers Al Gomes and Connie Watrous of Big Noise, along with Tim Labonte and Alan Boyd, conceptualized and created a short film for Tyler's spoken word performance entitled If You Knew.[28]

Tyler's recording had been featured on a 2016 tribute album to The Beach Boys' lyricist Stephen Kalinich called Be Still that Gomes, Watrous, and Boyd had also produced. The Recording Academy placed the collection on the Official Ballot for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album, however, it didn't win. Tyler also composed the music for the recording.[29] [30]

The new video for If You Knew was produced to honor Tyler and also create a fundraiser for the organization that was working closely with him, the Prostate Cancer Foundation. All the streaming proceeds of the video, and Tyler's original recording, are being donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.[31]


  1. ^ Birthplace has been cited as either Greenwood, Mississippi[1][2] or Winona, Mississippi[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e "James Michael Tyler Dies: 'Friends' Actor Who Portrayed Gunther Was 59". DEADLINE. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "'Friends' Star James Michael Tyler Dies At 59 After Stage 4 Prostate Cancer Battle". Hollywood Life. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "James Michael Tyler, Gunther the Central Perk Barista on 'Friends,' Dies at 59". The Hollywood Reporter. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Where is Friends' Gunther now? James Michael Tyler once opened temporary Central Perk pop-up replica in London". MEAWW. May 19, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  5. ^ "James Michael Tyler he is still alive". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2015. Archived from the original on March 18, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "James Michael Tyler, the Actor Who Played Gunther on Friends, Dies at 59". IGN. October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "James Michael Tyler, actor and TL Hanna grad most famous for Friends role, has died". Independent Mail. October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  8. ^ "'Friends' actor James Michael Tyler attended T.L. Hanna High School, Clemson". WYFF. October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  9. ^ Thorley, Chantelle (September 15, 2009). "London to celebrate 15 years of Friends with Central Perk pop-up". Event. Archived from the original on April 10, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  10. ^ Locker, Melissa (September 16, 2014). "Central Perk From Friends Is Now a Real Place, and Gunther Is There". Time. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on 'Friends,' dies". ABC News. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c "The Cast of Friends: Where Are They Now?". Ranker. October 2, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d "Muere James Michael Tyler, actor de la serie 'Friends'". La Opinión A Coruña (in Spanish). October 26, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  14. ^ "Former 'Friends' actor files for divorce". San Francisco Chronicle. March 6, 2014. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends, has died aged 59". The Independent. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  16. ^ "James Michael Tyler on Instagram: "My lovely wife ... Jenn". Instagram. September 5, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  17. ^ "Who Was James Michael Tyler's Wife?". LADbible. October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  18. ^ "'Friends' actor James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, shares prostate cancer diagnosis". NBC News. June 21, 2021. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  19. ^ Patel, Vimal; Jiménez, Jesus (October 25, 2021). "James Michael Tyler, Who Played Gunther on 'Friends,' Dies at 59". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  20. ^ "Friends' James Michael Tyler Dead at 59 Following Stage 4 Prostate Cancer Diagnosis". Yahoo!. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  21. ^ "James Michael Tyler, Friends Gunther Actor, Dies at 59". Screen Rant. October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  22. ^ "What Is Gunther From 'Friends' Doing Now, Anyways?". Marie Claire. June 21, 2021. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "James Michael Tyler". British Film Institute. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h "James Michael Tyler". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  25. ^ a b "James Michael Tyler: Friends stars show 'gratitude' for Gunther actor". BBC News. October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  26. ^ a b c "James Michael Tyler List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  27. ^ "Falleció el actor que interpretó al inolvidable "Gunther" en Friends". La Capital (Mar del Plata) (in Spanish). October 24, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  28. ^ "James Michael Tyler – If You Knew : YouTube". YouTube. July 16, 2021.
  29. ^ "Be Still : The Works of Stephen J. Kalinich : Spotify". Spotify. February 12, 2021.
  30. ^ "Be Still : The Works of Stephen J. Kalinich : Apple Music". February 12, 2021.
  31. ^ "James Michael Tyler and Prostate Cancer Foundation". July 16, 2021.

External links


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