The star cast of Friends and the sitcom’s fans have paid tribute to James Michael Tyler aka Gunther after he passed away aged 59 on Sunday.
Tyler played the iconic role of coffee shop Central Perk’s manager, who silently adored the character of Rachel Green, played by actress Jennifer Anniston. The actress said that Friends would not have been the same without Tyler, who delivered laughs to many with his role in the show.
Courtney Cox, who played Monica Geller on the show, said she was immensely grateful to have known Tyler, while Joey, played by Matt Leblanc, said that Tyler would be missed.
David Schwimmer aka Ross Geller also thanked Tyler for playing such an ‘unforgettable role’. Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow referenced a line from the show’s title track and said, “Thank you for being there for us all.” Tyler, who was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018, passed away on Sunday.
The cult classic’s fans were also dejected at Tyler’s demise. Many referred to a scene from the show’s last episode in which Rachel walks up to Gunther and says she would remember him whenever she came across a man with ‘hair brighter than the sun’.
RIP to the man with hair brighter than the sun. #Gunther #Friends #JamesMichaelTyler #RIPJamesMichaelTyler #CentralPerk pic.twitter.com/6Ng5Qj6aq8
— Matt Bernard 😷 (@MattBernard88) October 24, 2021
While reading about James Michael Tyler's tragic death, Rachel's final words to Gunther came to mind…
"When I'm in a café, having coffee, or I see a man with hair brighter than the sun, I'll think of you" 💔 https://t.co/4p8nEsEJm8
— Anna Collinson (@AnnaCollinson) October 24, 2021
An executive producer of the show, Kevin Bright said that Tyler was an amazing soul who spent his last days being of assistance to others. Gunther would live on forever, said Bright.
James Michael Tyler Our Gunther passed away last night. He was an incredible person who spent his final days helping others. God bless you James, Gunther lives forever.
— Kevin Bright (@kbrightELA) October 24, 2021
Miniaturist Kristin Rogersdotter gave a fitting tribute to Tyler by putting together a Friends theme lego kit. In a video of the gesture, Rogersdotter used a Gunther looking lego block to put together the Friends set and had Rachel join him in the scene.
Just thought of last December when I was assembling my Friends Lego kit and I made a movie of #Gunther helping me with the assembly. Of course I had Rachel join him: pic.twitter.com/efRoiuFOKk
— Kristin Rogersdotter (@KRogersdotter) October 25, 2021
A user commented on Gunther’s character and the life lessons one could learn from him. She said that he would be remembered as someone who ‘loved unconditionally’, without desire for returns.
We will miss you Gunther .
You'll be Remembered forever for Loving someone Unconditionally and not Asking anything in Return .#RIP #Friends pic.twitter.com/0WCWmuMa5q
— Salma Akhtar (@Salma1Akhtar) October 25, 2021
A good Samaritan and TV critic, Scott Bryan lamented Tyler’s loss and took the opportunity to educate people about symptoms of prostate cancer. He posted a screenshot, which detailed warning signs of the disease.
With the sad news of Michael James Tyler who played Gunther, here’s the symptoms of prostate cancer. pic.twitter.com/ppr3ru9X4W
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) October 24, 2021
Although Tyler was renowned for playing Gunther, he appeared in other works as well. These included acclaimed series Scrubs and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Most recently he appeared in Friends: The Reunion, which brought together the cast of the beloved show in May this year.