'Friends' star Matthew Perry dies at age 54
Updated October 29, 2023 at 9:40 PM ET
Actor Matthew Perry, best known for playing Chandler Bing on the hit TV show Friends, has died, the Los Angeles County medical examiner confirmed. He was 54 years old.
Perry was found dead of an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times, celebrity outlet TMZ and other reports. The medical examiner has not yet confirmed the cause of death.
Perry was cast in Friends, the sitcom that shot him to fame, at age 24. He starred as Chandler for the sitcom's entire 10-season run, a sarcastic yet affable commitment-phobe who later found love with the Type-A Monica Geller (Courteney Cox).
"I loved Chandler, I loved the show, and I also knew: Remember this, because it's going to be the best time of your life," Perry said in an ABC News Nightline interview with Diane Sawyer last year.
But behind the scenes, Perry struggled with addiction. He opened up about his decades-long excessive use of alcohol and pills in his memoir published last year, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. In the book, which he dedicated to fellow sufferers of addiction, he detailed his painful struggle with drug use and his related health problems: He said he'd spent half of his life in treatment, detoxed an estimated 65 times and underwent 14 surgeries.
"Whenever I bumped into something that I didn't really want to share, I would think of the people that I would be helping, and it would keep me going," the actor told The New York Times last year.
While on set, Perry tried to hide his addiction problem, which he said went hand-in-hand with the pressure to get laughs.
"I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn't laugh, and that's not healthy for sure," Perry wrote in the memoir. "But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn't laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions. 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."
Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler's mother on Friends, said she was devastated by the death of her "son."
I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my “son”, Matthew Perry. The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock. I’m sending love & condolences to his friends & family, especially his dad, John Bennett Perry, who I worked with on Flamingo Road & Falcon Crest. #RIPMatthew pic.twitter.com/QWMsBVJEAr— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) October 29, 2023
Perry received an Emmy nomination for his Friends role and two more for his dramatic turn as associate White House counsel on The West Wing.
Perry also starred in several films, including Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards, 17 Again and the TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Born in Massachusetts, the actor was raised in various parts of Canada, often traveling between the homes of his split parents in Los Angeles and Montreal. In Canada, he became a nationally ranked junior tennis player.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a childhood friend, thanked Perry for bringing laughter to both the schoolyard when they were young and to millions of people around the world.
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.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 29, 2023
Later in life, the actor moved on to pickleball, the Times reported, even getting a court built at his new home in the Pacific Palisades.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.