Actor Matthew Perry, beloved star of the top-rated 1990s U.S. television sitcom “Friends” as the wise-cracking Chandler Bing, died on Saturday after apparently drowning in a hot tub. He was 54.
The Los Angeles Times and TMZ.com, 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.
The news brought an outpouring of grief from fellow celebrities and other high-profile personalities.
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.”
NBC News, citing an unnamed representative of Perry and a law enforcement source, said he was found dead at his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.
“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 U.S. 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.