The entertainment world is mourning the loss of Matthew Perry, renowned for his iconic portrayal of Chandler Bing on the hit television series Friends. Perry was found dead at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, October 28, 2023, reportedly due to an apparent drowning in a hot tub. He was 54 years old.
Perry’s passing has left fans and colleagues in shock and sadness, with numerous US media outlets, including TMZ and the Los Angeles Times, reporting on the tragic incident. The actor’s portrayal of Chandler Bing endeared him to millions of viewers during the show’s ten-season run.
Matthew Perry’s journey in the world of entertainment began in Massachusetts on August 19, 1969. He was born to John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Marie Langford. His earliest credited role was a minor part in the drama series “240-Robert” in 1979. Perry’s career continued to evolve as he landed bit parts in various shows, including “Charles in Charge,” “Silver Spoons,” and “The Tracey Ullman Show.”
Remarkably, Perry secured his first film role while still in high school, acting alongside River Phoenix in the 1988 film “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.” At the age of 15, he relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, with his mother, who had previously served as the press secretary of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Following his high school graduation, Perry secured his first TV role in the series “Second Chance,” which was later renamed “Boys Will Be Boys.” He also made appearances in various other TV shows, including “Growing Pains,” “Ally McBeal,” “The West Wing,” and “Scrubs.”
Surprisingly, when the production of Friends was in its early stages, Matthew Perry was not initially considered for an audition on the popular sitcom. However, he would eventually land the role of Chandler Bing, which would become one of the most iconic characters in television history. The series ran for 234 episodes, featuring a star-studded ensemble cast, including Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow.
Off-screen, the Friends cast formed a bond as strong as the characters they portrayed. They famously negotiated together to become some of the highest-paid actors on a television series at the time. In 2021, a Friends reunion special, hosted by James Corden, fueled immense interest in seeing the cast together again. However, it was more of a reunion to discuss the show rather than a continuation of the characters’ storylines.
Matthew Perry received one Emmy nomination for his role as Chandler Bing in Friends and two more for his appearances as an associate White House counsel on “The West Wing.”
In recent years, Perry was candid about his personal struggles with addiction, which he battled even at the height of his career. He published a memoir titled “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” on November 22, 2022, in which he openly discussed his battles with drug and alcohol dependence. Perry revealed that he nearly lost his life at the age of 49 when his colon burst from opioid overuse. Doctors gave him just a two percent chance of survival, and he spent two weeks in a coma followed by several more months in the hospital. To recover, Perry underwent 14 surgeries to repair the abdominal damage. Over the years, he admitted to entering rehab 15 times in an effort to overcome his drug addiction.
In a candid interview with CBC last year, Perry said, “I was taking 55 Vicodin a day, I weighed 128 pounds, I was on Friends getting watched by 30 million people—and that’s why I can’t watch the show, ’cause I was brutally thin.”
Matthew Perry’s passing is a heartbreaking loss for the entertainment industry and his legions of fans. His talent and contributions to the world of entertainment will be remembered and celebrated for years to come.