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‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub at L.A. home

VIDEO | 01:38
‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub, sources say

Authorities responded around 4 p.m. to his home, where he was discovered unresponsive. There was no sign of foul play.

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“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, but a source told The Times prescription medications were recovered at the home and hence toxicology will be part of the investigation. A representative for Perry did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Los Angeles Police Capt. Scot Williams, who leads the Robbery Homicide Division that is investigating Perry’s death, said the “cause of death may not be known for some time, but at this point foul play is not suspected.” The cause of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, which on Sunday officially deferred its finding pending further testing.

“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.”

Hollywood is mourning the death of ‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry, who was found dead Saturday in a hot tub at his L.A. home.

Oct. 29, 2023

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Saturday evening yellow-and-black LAPD crime scene tape blocked off the entrance to Blue Sail Drive, a tony street just off the Pacific Coast Highway at the crest of a hill with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.

Shortly after 7 p.m., as multiple helicopters whirred overhead, Perry’s mother, Suzanne, and her husband, broadcaster Keith Morrison, arrived on the scene. Morrison declined to comment. An LAPD officer at the scene said he had no information and that he did not know when any would be forthcoming.

Peter, a neighbor of Perry’s on Bluesail Drive who declined to give his last name Saturday evening, said he only spoke to the actor once, for five minutes, and that he was “very pleasant” and a “nice guy.”

“It’s shocking,” Peter said as he waited for the LAPD, who had barred journalists from passing the police tape, to approve him for entry. “He’s been redoing this house forever and he seemed fine. It’s very sad.”

Leo, another neighbor who declined to give his full name, said he was home when an ambulance arrived at Perry’s house Saturday afternoon. He declined to say whether paramedics tried to revive Perry or if a body was removed from the premises.

“I was shocked,” he said. “It was very disturbing and sad after all these years.”

Perry was one of his favorite actors, Leo said, and the funniest member of the “Friends” cast.

“I encountered him once and he was very, very friendly. More so than I thought,” Leo said. “It’s definitely a tragedy, especially at such a young age,” he added. “I was very heartbroken to see what happened.”

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Keith Morrison crosses under the police tape near Perry's house in Los Angeles Saturday night.
Perry’s stepfather, Canadian broadcaster Keith Morrison, crosses under the police tape near Perry’s house in Los Angeles Saturday night.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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 Canada 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.

His potshot at Keanu Reeves was “a mean thing,” the “Friends” star says at the Festival of Books, where he delves into his brutally revealing memoir.

April 23, 2023

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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.

"Friends" cast members
The cast of “Friends,” clockwise from bottom left: Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green.
(NBC / NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

“Nobody wanted to be famous more than me,” Perry told The Times in April, discussing “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” at the Festival of Books. “I was convinced it was the answer. I was 25, it was the second year of ‘Friends,’ and eight months into it, I realized the American dream is not making me happy, not filling the holes in my life. I couldn’t get enough attention. … Fame does not do what you think it’s going to do. It was all a trick.”

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.

Perry’s “Friends” co-star Maggie Wheeler, who played his on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice on the hit show, shared a sweet tribute on Instagram.

“What a loss. The world will miss you Mathew Perry,” she wrote. “The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”

He was also memorialized by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pierre’s son and one of Perry’s childhood friends.

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“Matthew Perry’s passing is shocking and saddening,” Trudeau wrote on X. “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. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved — and you will be missed.”

British singer-songwriter Adele paid tribute to the ‘Friends’ actor, who died Saturday at 54, during her residency at Caesars Palace.

Oct. 28, 2023

Though Perry estimated he had relapsed “60 or 70 times” since first getting sober in 2001, he maintained a steady presence on American television, playing key parts in backstage dramedy “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and therapy sitcom “Go On,” and making a steady stream of guest appearances on acclaimed shows such as “The West Wing” and “The Good Wife.”

Since his near-death experience in 2018, Perry had found solace in friends, frequent games of pickleball and, especially, writing. Though producing “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” had forced him to relive his darkest moments, it also connected him to “all the sufferers out there”: “I had a story to tell, a story that could really help people,” he wrote. “And helping others had become the answer for me.”

Indeed, for all his success as an actor and, more recently, as a bestselling memoirist, Perry told The Times in April that his work was not the center of what he hoped would be his legacy.

Asked how he’d like to be remembered, he said: “As a guy who lived life, loved well, lived well and helped people. That running into me was a good thing, and not something bad.”

Staff writer Meg James and deputy editor Maane Khatchatourian contributed to this report.

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