The death has been announced of the American actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as Gunther in Friends. He was 59 and had been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.

Tyler's passing was confirmed by a representative to the celebrity website TMZ. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

A family statement read: "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.

As Gunther in Friends

"Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers [college football team], and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures."

"If you met him once you made a friend for life," the statement concluded.

The actor was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018 but chose to keep his illness private for a number of years. He went public with his diagnosis on US show Today in June and urged other men to get screened for prostate cancer.

"My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday," he said.

"I did that, May 28. My goal now is to help save at least one life by coming out with this news."

James Michael Tyler is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, and extended family.