Tyler died at his Los Angeles home Sunday morning, months after initially going public with his diagnosis, which he first learned of in 2018. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.
“The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh “Friend”), from the hit series Friends, but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband,” his family said in a statement. “… Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life.”
Tyler first discussed his diagnosis in a June interview with Today, sharing that the illness was determined to be genetic and that it was “gonna probably get me.” While hormone therapy “worked amazingly for about a year,” it spread to his spine and bones and eventually led to paraplegia. In his interview, he explained that screening and early diagnosis can lead to better treatment of the illness.
“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.”
Tyler’s work goes beyond his adored character in the Friends crew, as he’s also appeared on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Scrubs, and in the 1997 thriller Motel Blue. Fans got a chance to see the star in Friends: The Reunion on HBO Max earlier this year. Also this year, his performance Stephan Kalinich’s poem “If You Knew” was used in a short video for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Friends producer Kevin Bright shared some words on Twitter, telling fans that “our Gunther passed away last night.”
“He was an incredible person who spent his final days helping others,” he wrote. “God bless you James, Gunther lives forever.”