Known best for playing Gunther on "Friends," James Michael Tyler has died, TODAY has confirmed. He was 59 years old.
The actor "passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles on Sunday morning after losing his life to prostate cancer," according to his family.
"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's statement continued. "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."
"Michael was first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in September 2018," they shared. "Wanting to help as many people as possible, he bravely shared his story and became a campaigner for those with a prostate to get a first PSA blood test as early as 40 years old."
"I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen," Tyler told Craig Melvin earlier this year. "That came back at an extraordinarily high number ... 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 additional testing, Tyler was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.
"A lot of men, if they catch this early, it's easily treatable," he stressed. "I don't want people to have to go through what I've been going through. This is not ... an easy process."
Tyler said that throughout the process, he had been surrounded by an "extraordinary" support group with a lot of "people praying" for his health.
"It's made me, personally, just realize how important every moment is, every day," he said. "And fighting. Don't give up. Keep fighting. Keep yourself as light as possible. And have goals. Set goals. My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday. I did that, May 28th. My goal now is to help save at least one life by coming out with this news."
Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno.
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