October 28, 2023
Matthew Perry, the Friends star with the killer timing who could not have been funnier, was found dead on Saturday in his jacuzzi after a 911 call suggested a cardiac event.
TMZ reports he may have drowned, but no official cause of death has yet been determined. No foul play is suspected.
Perry was world-famous for his portrayal of snarky Chandler Bing, but his career began as early as 1979, when he appeared alongside his dad, actor John Bennett Perry, on an episode of 240-Robert. He filmed it at age 9:
He was born August 19, 1969, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, but moved to Canada after his mom and dad divorced when he was an infant.
There, his mom was Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau's press agent, and he went to school with Justin Trudeau, who is Canada's current PM. His stepdad is Dateline NBC's Keith Morrison.
At 15, he moved to L.A., where he pursued acting. Early TV credits included Charles in Charge (1985), Silver Spoons (1986) and the TV movie Morning Maggie (1987).
Perry made his series-regular debut on Second Chance aka Boys Will Be Boys in 1987, and appeared in his first movie the following year — River Phoenix's A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.
After spots on Growing Pains (1989) and Beverly Hills, Cop (1991), among others, he landed two more short-lived series: Sydney (1990) with Valerie Bertinelli and Home Free (1993) with Diana Canova.
In 1994, his life changed when he was cast as Chandler Bing on Friends, becoming part of what would eventually be seen as one of TV's most iconic casts, along with Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow. The stars became real-life friends, sticking together through salary negotiations and supporting each other behind the scenes.
Perry needed the support — he was battling alcoholism and a painkiller addiction in an attempt to handle the demands of overnight fame.
While Friends dominated the pop cultural landscape, Perry was able to star in several films — Fools Rush In (1997), Almost Heroes (1998), Three to Tango (1999), The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards (2004), plus Serving Sara (2002).
Post-Friends, his attempts at series mostly flopped, including Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-2007), Mr. Sunshine (2011) and Go On (2012-2013).
He did recapture some glory with a recurring role on The Good Wife (2012-2013) and the successful sitcom The Odd Couple (2015-2017) with Thomas Lennon.
But Perry was winding down his acting career — he did not need to work, and gradually seemed to lose interest while attempting to right himself personally. His last movie was 2009's 17 Again, and his final TV work was in 2017's The Kennedys After Camelot.
He wrote and starred in the dark, dramatic play The End of Longing in London in 2016, and took it to Broadway in 2017.
Perry and the other Friends stars appeared together in 2021 on a highly rated HBO Max reunion special. "It sounded like my voice was off," Perry said when fans noticed he looked and sounded unwell, but he could not stay away.
In 2022, his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir was a best-selling confessional about his troubled life, one he promoted in high-profile interviews with Diane Sawyer and others. He also wound up having to apologize for inexplicably slighting Keanu Reeves in the tome.
He died unmarried and with no children. He is survived by his mother and stepfather, and by his father and stepmother.