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‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry dead at 54

todayOctober 29, 2023 49

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‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub, sources say

“Friends” star Matthew Perry was found dead Saturday in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home, law enforcement sources said. He was 54.

Authorities responded about 4 p.m. to his home, where he was discovered unresponsive. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, did not cite a cause of death. No drugs were found at the scene, sources said. Additionally, no foul play is suspected, according to law enforcement sources. A representative for Perry did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s robbery-homicide detectives are investigating the death. The cause of death will be determined at a later date by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

“We are devastated by the passing of our dear friend Matthew Perry,” Warner Bros. Television Group, which produced “Friends,” said in a statement to The Times. “Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family. The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans.”

“We are incredibly saddened by the too soon passing of Matthew Perry,” NBC, which aired the series for all 10 seasons, said in its own statement to The Times. “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, the son of actor John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Marie Langford, onetime press secretary of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was born in 1969 and grew up between Montreal and Los Angeles after his parents separated when Perry was 1.

He got his start as a child actor, landing guest spots on “Charles in Charge” and “Beverly Hills 90210” and playing opposite River Phoenix in the film “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon” in the 1980s and early 1990s.

But his big break came when he was cast in “Friends” — originally titled “Friends Like Us” — a sitcom about six single New Yorkers navigating adulthood that premiered on NBC in 1994.

The series soon became a juggernaut, the anchor of the network’s vaunted Thursday-night “Must-See TV” lineup, and turned Perry and his castmates Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer into mega-stars almost overnight. At its high-water mark — for a 1996 Super Bowl episode and the 2004 series finale — the series could notch more than 50 million live viewers; by its end, cast members were earning more than $1 million an episode.

As Chandler Bing, the handsome, wisecracking roommate of LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani and, later, love interest of Cox’s fastidious Monica Geller, Perry distinguished himself in a crackling ensemble cast. With his dry delivery he created a catchphrase with a mere turn of inflection, based on banter he’d shared with childhood friends: Could he be any more Chandler?

Soon, he was attached to major stars like Julia Roberts and appearing in prominent films such as 1997 rom-com “Fools Rush In,” opposite Salma Hayek, and 2000 ensemble mob comedy “The Whole Nine Yards” with Bruce Willis.

There was a dark side to the life of one of television’s most beloved funnymen, however. In his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” Perry recounted his lifelong struggle with addiction to alcohol and opioids. He wrote that he had his first drink at 14, but didn’t recognize the signs of alcoholism until 21. Since then, he estimated, he’d spent more than $7 million on efforts to get sober, including multiple stints in rehab. His substance abuse also led to a number of serious health issues, including a five-month hospitalization in 2018 following a colon rupture that left him, he wrote, with a 2% chance to live through the night.

And it was fueled, he acknowledged during a “Friends” reunion special in 2021, by the pressure to land the joke in front of a live studio audience night after night.

Perry was remembered on Saturday by friends and collaborators such as Selma Blair, Paget Brewster, Morgan Fairchild and Mira Sorvino as a singular comic talent and kind soul.

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