Matthew Perry, Actor and Philanthropist, Dies at 54


Image Courtesy of NPR

By Tiffani Stitz

Actor Matthew Perry, well known for his role on the hit 90s television show Friends as Chandler Bing, died at his Pacific Palisades home on October 28. He was 54. 

Perry died after an apparent drowning in his hot tub and was found unresponsive in his LA home by an assistant around 4 p.m., who then notified authorities. When the LAPD and LAFD arrived, Perry was pronounced dead and the police told sources that no foul play was suspected. The investigation is not yet complete and is still underway.

While playing Chandler Bing on Friends, Perry captivated audiences through his sarcasm and unique sense of humor making Chandler Bing one of the most well-known characters in TV history.

Perry was 24 years old when he was first hired to be on Friends. The show ran from 1994 through 2004 and was the most popular television show of its time. Perry was nominated for an Emmy for his performance in “Friends” in 2002.

He also appeared in The West Wing, which earned him two more Emmy nominations in 2003. And in 2006 he received an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for The Ron Clark Story.

Audiences across the world saw Perry as the sarcastic Chandler Bing. What many people did not see was that behind the curtains, Perry struggled with addiction and substance abuse for decades during, and after, the filming of Friends

In 1997, after a jet ski accident, Perry’s addiction to painkillers began, which would only be the beginning of his decade-long drug and alcohol abuse struggles. He checked himself into a rehab facility in 1997, which dominated the headlines at the time. In 2000, Perry was hospitalized due to his addiction, and it was something he struggled with for the remainder of his life. 

After spending around $9 million to try and get himself sober, Perry wanted to do all that he could to help others who were struggling with addiction. In 2013, Perry turned his Malibu house into a men’s sober living facility.  

Perry’s struggles with addiction caused a near-death experience for him in 2018 when he was hospitalized after his colon burst from opioid abuse. Having a 2% chance of survival, Perry spent five months in the hospital and was in a coma for two weeks. 

In 2021, the cast of Friends came back together for the first time in decades for a reunion special. The cast reflected on their time filming the show and even talked about how their bonds have remained so strong over the years. 

During this special, James Corden, the host, asked Perry which cast member he hears from the most, and Perry responded, “I don’t hear from anyone.” 

Perry also revealed during this reunion that his struggles with substance abuse while filming the show caused him to not remember about 3 years of the filming process. Perry then talked about how special these friendships are, and that no matter how much time has gone, they will still always be friends. 

In 2022, Perry released a memoir called “Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Things,” where he talked about all of the ups and downs of his life, his career, the impacts of fame, his struggles in relationships with others, and himself, and more. In this memoir, he also shared his stories of addiction and shared personal experiences and insights into the things he was going through off the screen. 

Up until the release of this memoir, Perry refused to talk about Friends and his past. This memoir was released because Perry believed it was important to share the stories of his addiction in hopes of helping others.

Days after Perry’s death, The Matthew Perry Foundation was launched by The National Philanthropic Trust, to help and give resources to people struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. 

The foundation was created to honor Perry’s legacy of helping others who struggle in ways similar to his own. In the later years of his life, Perry was an advocate for helping others with addiction, which is evident in one of his most famous quotes: 

“When I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want to help others to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that,” said Perry in a recent interview with Tom Power.

On November 3, 2023, Perry was laid to rest at Forest Memorial Park in LA, which is right across the street from the Warner Brothers studio, where “Friends” was filmed for 10 years. The entire core cast from “Friends”- Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, and Schwimmer – attended the funeral this past weekend. 

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