Jennifer Aniston leads tributes to Friends actor James 'Gunther' Michael Tyler with emotional throwback clip

Jennifer Aniston has shared a sweet tribute to James Michael Tyler, who has died aged 59

Jennifer Aniston leads tributes to Gunther in emotional Instagram post
(Image credit: Getty)

Jennifer Aniston has paid tribute to Friends star James Michael Tyler, who has died aged 59.  

The American actor, best known for playing Gunther on the hit TV sitcom, passed away from prostate cancer at his Los Angeles home yesterday. He was first diagnosed with the illness in 2018 but did not publicly disclose it until last summer, shortly after he appeared virtually on the Friends reunion special

His untimely death was confirmed by his manager, who wrote, "If you met him once you made a friend for life. "[He] is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, the love of his life."

Jennifer Aniston was one of the first Friends stars to share her reaction to the devastating news, taking to Instagram to pay her respects with a sweet video. 

Gunther, who worked as the manager on the show's Central Perk café, had been infatuated with her character, Rachel, from the third season onwards. Jennifer posted a clip of a scene from the Friends series finale, in which the goofy funnyman confesses his love for her, only to be told his feelings aren't mutual. 

She captioned the video, "Friends would not have been the same without you. Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed." 

Her heartwarming sentiments were echoed by Friends co-star, Courteney Cox, who played Monica on the popular series. 

"The size of gratitude you brought into the room and showed every day on set is the size of the gratitude I hold for having known you. Rest In peace James," she captioned a portrait of the late actor. 

James confirmed his advanced prostate cancer diagnosis on the Today Show in June 2021, telling host Craig Melvin that his biggest regret is not getting checked out sooner. He also explained that he decided against attending the Friends reunion special in person because he didn't want to ruin the celebrations with the news of his declining health. 

"My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday," he revealed, wiping tears from his eyes. "I did that." 

While Gunther never quite managed to integrate the iconic Friends sextet, he wasn't exactly far from the group's hilarious antics. The hopeless romantic appeared in 148 of the show's 236 episodes, making him the most frequently recurring character to grace its set.

Eagled-eyed fans of the Mississippi actor might also know that he had a one-off role in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, playing Ethan in the 2001 episode, My Best Shot. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.