• Obituaries

Matthew Perry, Emmy-nominated ‘Friends’ Star, Dead at 54

AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File
Matthew Perry arrives at the premiere of “The Invention of Lying” in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 21, 2009.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Friends” star Matthew Perry, the Emmy-nominated actor whose sarcastic, but lovable Chandler Bing was among television’s most famous and most quotable characters, has died at 54.

The actor was found dead at his Los Angeles home, according to coroner’s records. An investigation into how Perry died is ongoing, and it may take weeks before his cause of death is determined.

Perry’s body was found in a hot tub at his home, according to unnamed sources cited by the Los Angeles Times and celebrity website TMZ, which was the first to report the news. LAPD Officer Drake Madison told The Associated Press on Saturday that officers had gone to that block “for a death investigation of a male in his 50s.”

This truly is The One Where Our Hearts Are Broken, Friends” co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and executive producer Kevin Bright, said in a statement. “We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment – not just to his work, but in life as well. He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart.”

Perry’s 10 seasons on “Friends” made him one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors, starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer as a friend group in New York.

As Chandler, he played the quick-witted, insecure and neurotic roommate of LeBlanc’s Joey and a close friend of Schwimmer’s Ross. During the show’s hijinks, he could be counted on to chime in with a line like “Could this BE any more awkward?” or another well-timed quip.

Perry was open about his long and public struggle with addiction, writing at the beginning of his 2022 million-selling memoir: “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”

Friends ran from 1994 until 2004, winning one best comedy series Emmy Award in 2002. The cast notably banded together for later seasons to obtain a salary of $1 million per episode for each.

Some of his “Friends” guest stars paid tribute on social media, posting photos, GIFS and bloopers from their favorite episodes.

What a loss, actress Maggie Wheeler, who played Perry’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice, wrote on Instagram. “The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on.”

Actress Morgan Fairchild, who played Perry’s mother on the show, said the loss of a “brilliant young actor” was a shock.

I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son,’ she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

By the “Friends” finale, Chandler is married to Cox’s Monica and they have a family, reflecting the journey of the core cast from single New Yorkers trying to figure their lives out to several of them married and starting families.

The series was one of television’s biggest hits and has taken on a new life — and found surprising popularity with younger fans — in recent years on streaming services.

Perry described reading the “Friends” script for the first time in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.”

It was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life. One character in particular stood out to me: it wasn’t that I thought I could ‘play’ Chandler. I ‘was’ Chandler.

On Sunday, Perry’s book was ranked No. 1 on Amazon, supplanting Britney Spears’ memoir.

Unknown at the time was the struggle Perry had with addiction and an intense desire to please audiences.

‘Friends’ was huge. I couldn’t jeopardize that. I loved the script. I loved my co-actors. I loved the scripts. I loved everything about the show but I was struggling with my addictions which only added to my sense of shame, he wrote in his memoir. “I had a secret and no one could know.”

I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn’t laugh, and that’s not healthy for sure. But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions, Perry wrote. “If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out. I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick.”

He recalled in his memoir that Aniston confronted him about being inebriated while filming.

I know you’re drinking, he remembered her telling him once. “We can smell it,” she said, in what Perry called a “kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer.”

In the foreword to Perry’s memoir, Lisa Kudrow described him as “whip smart, charming, sweet, sensitive, very reasonable, and rational.” She added, “That guy, with everything he was battling, was still there.”

An HBO Max reunion special in 2021 was hosted by James Corden and fed into huge interest in seeing the cast together again, although the program consisted of the actors discussing the show and was not a continuation of their characters’ storylines.

Perry received one Emmy nomination for his “Friends” role and two more for appearances as an associate White House counsel on “The West Wing.”

Perry also had several notable film roles, starring opposite Salma Hayek in the rom-com “Fools Rush In” and Bruce Willis in the the crime comedy “The Whole Nine Yards.”

He worked consistently after “Friends,” though never in a role that brought him as much attention or acclaim.

In 2015, he played Oscar for a CBS reboot of “The Odd Couple” that aired for two seasons. He told the AP that playing Oscar Madison, the character originally made famous in the 1960s series by Walter Matthau, was a “dream role.” He also said he was surprised how much he enjoyed being filmed again in front of a live audience.

I didn’t realize I missed it really until it actually happened, til we actually shot the pilot and there was a studio audience there and I realized, ‘Wow, I really like this. This is nice,’ he said. “You kind of ham up for the people in the audience. My performance never got better than when there was an audience there.”

Perry was born Aug. 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His father is actor John Bennett Perry and his mother, Suzanne, served as press secretary of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and is married to “Dateline” correspondent Keith Morrison.

AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File
David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after “Friends” won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Primetime Emmy Awards Sept. 22, 2002, in Los Angeles.
AP Photo/Brooke Lansdale
A person takes pictures of a makeshift memorial for Matthew Perry outside the building known as the “Friends” building in New York, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.