Matthew Perry, Actor and Comedian, Dead at 54

He rose to fame as one of the stars of "Friends"

Matthew Perry speaking
Matthew Perry during The Lili Claire Foundation's 6th Annual Benefit.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Sad news emerged from the Los Angeles area on Saturday night, with TMZ reporting that the body of actor Matthew Perry had been found drowned at a home there. A subsequent report from Rolling Stone confirmed Perry’s death. Perry was 54 years old, and became a star via the role of Chandler Bing on the popular NBC series Friends. Last fall saw the publication of a look back on his life and career, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir.

At the time of its publication, many reviews of Perry’s book hailed the author for his candor. “Perry doesn’t always come across as likable, but maybe that’s the mark of a truthful memoir,” wrote Barbara Ellen in The Guardian.

In the years after Friends went off the air, Perry appeared in a variety of shows — including lead roles in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Go On, as well as a guest role on The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Perry also struggled with addiction — something else he was candid about in his memoir — as well as its effect on his health.

According to TMZ’s reporting, there were no drugs on the scene when first responders found Perry’s body. The timing of Perry’s death following a series of well-received media appearances is particularly bittersweet. Following an interview on Real Time With Bill Maher last year, Maher predicted that Perry’s best work was ahead of him. In the wake of Perry’s death, others — including The Ringer’s Joanna Robinson — pointed to the way that he raised awareness for the gulf between an outsized public persona and more tormented private life.

Given the acclaim that greeted his memoir — which wasn’t Perry’s first work as a writer — it’s painful to think about what Perry might have done next, artistically speaking. Even for someone who had been one of the stars of an era-defining television show, Perry seemed interested in trying new things and testing his skills in unexpected ways. It’s not a bad quality to have in one’s legacy.

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