Friends Star Matthew Perry Dies at 54

The death has been announced of actor Matthew Perry, who shot to fame playing wise-cracking Chandler Bing in long-running American sitcom Friends. He was found by his assistant in the hot tub in his Hollywood home on Sunday, and had apparently drowned.

Friends, which also starred Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Courtney Cox and Matt LeBlanc, followed the fortunes of six young friends living in New York City, and aired over 10 seasons from 1994 until 2004. The final episode was watched by 52.5 million in the US, making it the most watched TV episode of the 2000s.

Matthew Perry was relatively unknown when cast as Chandler Bing, though he had moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and starred as Chazz Russell in Boys Will Be Boys as well as taking roles in shows including Growing Pains. In later years he also appeared in several films, including Fools Rush In, Almost Heroes and The Whole Nine Yards, as well as TV productions including The West Wing and Studio 60, as well as appearing on stage and writing and starring in his play The End of Longing, but never found a screen project which came anywhere near matching the huge success and fame he found in Friends.

The role in Friends earned him an Emmy nomination in 2002, but he later said that fame and fortune Friends brought had only bought him ‘about eight months’ of happiness. He had drug and alcohol problems in later life and was said to have spent $9m trying to clean up. He experienced health problems including a burst colon in 2018 due to his drug usage, which required several operations.

In 2016, he told BBC Radio 2 that he could not remember three years of filming during Friends, because of drink and drugs, and in an interview last year, he spoke about how he did not watch the show.


“I didn’t watch the show, and haven’t watched the show, because I could go, ‘Drinking, opiates, drinking, cocaine,'” he said. “I could tell season by season, by how I looked. That’s why I don’t wanna watch it, because that’s what I see.

“But I think I’m going to start to watch it because it’s been an incredible thing to watch it touch the hearts of different generations.”

His book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing detailed some of his struggles with addiction.

Born in Massachusetts in 1969, Matthew Perry was raised in Ottawa, Canada, where he attended elementary school with Justin Trudeau, who later became Canadian prime minister.

Canada’s leader wrote on X: “Matthew Perry’s passing is shocking and saddening. I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.”

Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s troublesome ex-girlfriend Janice in Friends, was the first of Perry’s co-stars to publicly pay tribute to the actor, saying the joy Perry brought to “so many” in his “too short lifetime will live on”.

“I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared,” she wrote on Instagram.

Morgan Fairchild, who played Perry’s on-screen mother and erotic novel writer Nora Bing, said: “I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son’, Matthew Perry. The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock.”


Cruel Intentions actress Selma Blair said Perry was her “oldest boy friend”, adding: “All of us loved Matthew Perry, and I did especially. Every day. I loved him unconditionally. And he me. And I’m broken. Broken hearted. Sweet dreams Matty. Sweet dreams.”

The LA Times and TMZ, which first reported that Perry had died, said the actor was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his house, and a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson told the BBC that first responders went to an address in the Pacific Palisades area regarding a “water emergency” of an unknown type, but did not name Perry.

Warner Bros, which produced the long-running show whose global reruns were loved by new generations of viewers, described Perry as a “true gift to us all”. There has as yet been no announcement from his fellow Friends stars, who have said they are working on a joint tribute.

Matthew Perry never married and had no children. He is survived by his separated parents, John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Perry.

See also: Football Legend Sir Bobby Charlton Dies at 86

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