Tyler died Sunday at home in Los Angeles from prostate cancer, said his manager, Toni Benson. Tyler was first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018.
“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,” Benson wrote in a tribute. “Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures.”
Tyler had appeared briefly in 1990s series like ‘Just Shoot Me!’ and ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ before being cast as a background character in the second episodes of ‘Friends’ in 1994. Over the show’s multi-year-run, he became the most frequently recurring guest star on the series playing Gunther, the Central Perk barista with an unrequited affection for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston).
Tyler was initially cast while working as a barista at the Bourgeois Pig coffee shop in Los Angeles. He didn’t have a line of dialogue on ‘Friends’ until he had made 33 appearances on the show, according to the 2019 book, ‘Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era’, by Saul Austerlitz.