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‘Friends’ Star Matthew Perry Dies Of Possible Drowning At 54; Family Heartbroken

‘Friends’ Star Matthew Perry Dies Of Possible Drowning At 54; Family Heartbroken
Actor Matthew Perry waits to announce the nominations for the Golden Globe Awards during a news conference in Beverly Hills, California on Dec. 14, 2006. Photo by Reuters

LOS ANGELES – Actor Matthew Perry, beloved star of the top-rated 1990s US television sitcom “Friends” as the wise-cracking Chandler Bing, died on Saturday, Oct. 28, after apparently drowning in a hot tub. He was 54.

The Los Angeles Times and, citing law enforcement sources, reported that the American-Canadian performer was found dead in a jacuzzi at his Los Angeles home. NBC, which broadcast “Friends” for 10 years, confirmed his demise in a statement on social media platform X.

Perry's family, friends, fellow celebrities and high-profile personalities on Sunday, Oct. 29, mourned the passing of the wise-cracking actor.

“Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend,” Perry's family told People magazine on Sunday in a statement.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother,” the family added. They thanked his fans by saying “You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love.”

Actor Mira Sorvino said on X: “Oh no!!! Matthew Perry!! You sweet, troubled soul!! May you find and happiness in Heaven, making everyone laugh with your singular wit!!!”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was a former schoolmate of Perry's in Ottawa, described the latter's passing as “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,” Trudeau said on X. “Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved - and you will be missed.”

“We are incredibly saddened by the too-soon passing of Matthew Perry,” NBC Entertainment said. “He brought so much joy to hundreds of millions of people around the world with his pitch perfect comedic timing and wry wit. His legacy will live on through countless generations.”

Perry's last post on Instagram, on Oct. 23, included a photograph of him sitting in a pool or jacuzzi at night, with the words: “Oh, so warm water swirling around makes you feel good? I'm Mattman.”

Perry was best known for his longtime role as Chandler in the internationally successful “Friends,” which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow.

The series made international celebrities out of all six castmates, who played a close-knit group of young adults who spent time at each other's apartments and at “Central Perk,” a fictional Manhattan cafe.

One of the major story lines involved a clandestine romance between Chandler and Monica Geller, the character played by Cox, which the four other friends – Rachel, Joey, Phoebe and Ross – each discovered one by one. The pair eventually marry.

The group reunited in 2021, 17 years after the series finale, for a much-hyped special that aired on HBO Max.

The show was, for a time, the most watched US television program in prime time, with each actor earning $1 million per episode at the height of its popularity.

Hidden from the public's view during much of the original run was Perry's prolonged struggle with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol, which he detailed in his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.”

“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead,” Perry wrote in the opening of the book.

In a New York Times interview published in October 2022, Perry said he had been clean for 18 months: "I've probably spent $9 million or something trying to get sober."

Perry recounted in his book that he had to be driven back to rehab right after shooting the episode of Chandler and Monica's wedding.

Following “Friends,” Perry went on to star in three more network television ventures that proved short-lived – “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “Mr. Sunshine” and “Go On.”

He also logged guest appearances or recurring roles in other hit TV shows, including “The West Wing,” “Ally McBeal,” “Scrubs” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.” His motion picture credits included “Fools Rush In,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “Almost Heroes” and “Three to Tango.”

The Massachusetts-born actor grew up in Ottawa after his mother, a Canadian journalist who once served as press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, divorced Perry's father and married a Canadian broadcasting personality.

Perry was a top-ranking junior tennis player before he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and improvisational comedy.

‘Gift to us all’

The lead co-stars of “Friends” have yet to publicly comment on the passing of the co-star of the show that aired 236 episodes, and remains widely popular in syndication.

The official “Friends” webpage on Instagram said: “We are devastated to learn of Matthew Perry’s passing. He was a true gift to us all. Our heart goes out to his family, loved ones, and all of his fans.”

Singer Adele gave a tearful tribute to Perry and his Chandler character during her Las Vegas show on Saturday night.

"I'll remember that character for the rest of my life," she said as the audience cheered, according to the Los Angeles Times. "He's probably the best comedic actor of all time," she said.

Many celebrities shared their thoughts on social media this weekend, such as actor Alyssa Milano, who described Perry as, “always the funniest person in the room.”

"Matty, remember when we used to go play bingo at that church in the valley?" she wrote. "You made me laugh that painful kind of laugh. A cry laugh. You made me cry-laugh."

Milano starred in the 1988 movie “Dance ‘til Dawn” with Perry.

Actor Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight on “The Office,” said on Instagram that Perry was “a genius," adding that “Chandler was one of the all-time great characters and his ability to spin a slightly funny line into absolute comedy gold was unsurpassed. Soar with the comedic angels, Matthew Perry. R.I.P.”