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Remembering Matthew Perry: Tributes to the Iconic Friends TV Comedy Star

Agencies and A News MAGAZINE
Published October 29,2023

The actor was discovered lifeless at his Los Angeles residence, as per reports from law enforcement sources in the US.

"Friends," the beloved sitcom that chronicled the lives of six close-knit friends in the bustling city of New York, graced television screens from 1994 until 2004. The show's final episode became a historic moment, attracting an astounding 52.5 million viewers in the US, making it the most-watched TV episode of the 2000s. Initial reports from the LA Times and TMZ, the first outlets to break the news of Perry's passing, stated that the actor was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his residence.

The Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed their response to an address in the Pacific Palisades area regarding an unspecified "water emergency," although they did not identify Perry by name.

Warner Bros., the production company behind the long-running show, whose global reruns continued to captivate new generations of viewers, described Matthew Perry as a "true gift to us all." Born in Massachusetts in 1969, Perry was raised in Ottawa, Canada, where he attended elementary school with Justin Trudeau, who would later become the Canadian Prime Minister.

Canadian leader Trudeau expressed his sorrow, saying, "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."

Perry moved to Los Angeles during his teenage years, kickstarting his career with roles like Chazz Russell in "Boys Will Be Boys" and appearances in shows like "Growing Pains." However, his stardom reached international heights with "Friends," a show that masterfully navigated the complexities of dating, careers, and friendship in the bustling city. The iconic ensemble cast, including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow, solidified "Friends" as one of the most successful TV shows in history.

Perry's portrayal of the witty and sarcastic Chandler Bing earned him an Emmy nomination in 2002. Yet, during the peak of his fame, he struggled with addiction to painkillers and alcohol, which led to multiple stints in rehabilitation clinics. In a 2016 interview, Perry revealed that he couldn't remember three years of filming "Friends" due to substance abuse.

In a recent interview, he mentioned not watching the show, explaining, "I didn't watch the show, and haven't watched the show, because I could go, 'Drinking, opiates, drinking, cocaine.' 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."

Perry faced various health issues, including a burst colon in 2018, as a consequence of his substance abuse, requiring several surgeries.

Entertainment reporter Sean Mandell described the overwhelming sentiment in Los Angeles as one of "shock," emphasizing Perry's central role in the success of "Friends" and his status as a crucial figure in the show's success.

While Perry also appeared in several films, including "Fools Rush In," "Almost Heroes," and "The Whole Nine Yards," he never found a screen project that could match the immense success and fame he achieved with "Friends."

In his later TV work, Perry gained acclaim for his role as associate White House counsel Joe Quincy in Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing," earning two Emmy nominations for outstanding guest actor in a drama series in 2003 and 2004. He also headlined Sorkin's subsequent series, "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip," and even wrote and produced his own show, "Mr. Sunshine," where he played the lead character.

Perry's final notable TV project, aside from the "Friends" reunion, was a TV reboot of "The Odd Couple," which lasted for three seasons on American screens. In 2017, Perry expressed his surprise at the show's cancellation, as he arrived on set to find his face painted over with green paint on the stage door.

Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler's memorable ex-girlfriend Janice in "Friends," was the first of Perry's co-stars to publicly honor the actor. Wheeler praised the joy that Perry brought to so many during his "too short lifetime" and expressed her gratitude for the creative moments they shared.

Morgan Fairchild, who played Perry's on-screen mother and erotic novel writer Nora Bing, expressed her heartbreak over the untimely loss of her "son," Matthew Perry, describing him as a brilliant young actor.

Selma Blair, known for her role in "Cruel Intentions," referred to Perry as her "oldest boy friend," sharing the deep love and friendship they had. Lucy Davis, who worked with Perry on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," considered it an honor and spoke of Perry's kindness and generosity in their interactions.

Perry's last Instagram post, just a few days before his passing, depicted him relaxing in a rooftop pool and has since received an outpouring of tributes from his fans.

Perry is survived by his parents, John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Perry, who separated when he was a baby, as well as five half-siblings. He never married and had no children. Perry often spoke about being inspired by his father, who was also an actor and made an appearance in one episode of "Friends" in 1997 as Mr. Burgin, the father of Rachel's love interest, Josh.