Friends actor Matthew Perry dies at 54, found in hot tub
LOS ANGELES – Matthew Perry, one of the stars of smash hit television sitcom Friends, was found dead at his home on Saturday, American media reported. He was 54.
First responders found the American-Canadian actor unconscious in a hot tub at his house and were unable to revive him, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
“We responded at 4.10pm… It is a death investigation for a male in his 50s,” a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman told AFP, without confirming the name of the deceased.
A fire department spokesman confirmed it had responded to a “water emergency”, which could refer to a “pool, spa, bathtub or fountain”, but could not confirm reports that Perry had drowned.
Perry was best known for his portrayal of the wise-cracking Chandler Bing on the wildly popular Friends, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.
The sitcom followed the lives of six New Yorkers navigating adulthood, dating and careers. It was a mainstay of NBC’s much-vaunted 1990s and early 2000s TV line-up, and drew a massive global following.
During the height of his success, Perry battled for years with addiction to painkillers and alcohol, and attended rehabilitation clinics on multiple occasions.
He experienced health problems, including a burst colon in 2018 due to his drug usage, which required multiple operations and the use of a colostomy bag for months after.
In his memoir Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing, published in 2022, Perry described going through detox dozens of times, spending some US$9 million (S$12.3 million) in attempts to get sober.
He dedicated the book to “all of the sufferers out there” and wrote in the prologue: “I should be dead.”
“People would be surprised to know that I have mostly been sober since 2001. Save for about 60 or 70 little mishaps over the years,” he also wrote.
TMZ, which first reported the news on Saturday, said no drugs were found at the scene. The celebrity news outlet said Perry was found by his assistant, who called 911.
The LA Times and TMZ said there were no signs of foul play, citing anonymous sources.
Reactions poured in from the Hollywood community on social media as news of Perry’s death spread.
Describing Perry as a “sweet, troubled soul”, actress Mira Sorvino, who starred with him in the 1994 television movie Parallel Lives, wrote: “May you find peace and happiness in Heaven, making everyone laugh with your singular wit.”
Actor Josh Charles, who appeared with Perry on The Good Wife (2009 to 2016), wrote: “Awful news. RIP brother.”
Warner Bros TV, which produced Friends, wrote: “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.”
Perry was born in the US state of Massachusetts in 1969, and was raised between Montreal and Los Angeles after his parents separated.
His mother is a Canadian journalist who once served as press secretary to former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau. His father is a US actor.
On Saturday, current Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Mr Pierre Trudeau’s son, said Perry’s death was “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,” Mr Justin Trudeau posted on social media platform X.
In his teens, Perry was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada before moving permanently to California and pursuing acting.
In the 1980s, he had guest roles in popular shows such as Charles In Charge (1984 to 1990) and Growing Pains (1985 to 1992).
He was the final, and youngest, lead actor to be cast for Friends.
Perry’s character – the group’s most sarcastic and quick-witted, but occasionally awkward and insecure, member – quickly became a fan favourite.
Perry and his co-stars – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer – negotiated US$1 million each, per episode, by the end of their colossally popular and zeitgeist-setting 236-episode run.
In a sign of the show’s enduring appeal, the cast members reportedly pocketed US$2.5 million (S$3.42 million) each for a reunion episode in 2021.
During that episode, Perry’s slurred speech prompted concern among fans.
He also surprised his co-stars by admitting to having suffered severe anxiety “every night” during the filming of the sitcom.
As well as Friends, Perry appeared in movies such as Fools Rush In (1997) and The Whole Nine Yards (2000).
He was nominated for five Emmys, including two for guest appearances on The West Wing (1999 to 2006), but never won the prestigious television award.
He never married. His representatives did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
Cue. (n.d.-d). Friends actor Matthew Perry dies at 54, found in hot tub. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/life/friends-actor-matthew-perry-dies-aged-54-us-media