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Death of 'Friends' actor Matthew Perry causes shock

LOS ANGELES – Shock over the sudden death of Matthew Perry, troubled star of the beloved "Friends" sitcom, rippled from Hollywood to his boyhood home in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the world would remember his "joy."

Perry, 54, was known globally for his portrayal of wise-cracking character Chandler Bing on the wildly popular “Friends,” which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.

First responders found Perry unconscious in a hot tub at his house Saturday and were unable to revive him, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times. Police confirmed they’d mounted a “death investigation for a male in his 50s.”

Perry had battled addiction and serious health problems for years, but the sudden death of a man who delivered laughter and light-hearted banter into millions of homes was a gut-punch for those who knew him.

“He brought so much joy to hundreds of millions of people around the world with his pitch perfect comedic timing and wry wit,” broadcaster NBC, which aired “Friends,” posted on social media site X.

In Canada, where Perry grew up, Trudeau recalled playing together and called the news “shocking.”

“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,” Trudeau posted on X.

The Ottawa Senators ice hockey team, which Perry supported, called him “one of Ottawa’s proudest sons.”

There was no immediate public reaction from the rest of the “Friends” cast. But Mira Sorvino, who starred with Perry in 1994’s television movie “Parallel Lives,” quickly posted: “Oh no!!! Matthew Perry!! You sweet, troubled soul!!”

“May you find peace and happiness in Heaven, making everyone laugh.”

– Pain behind the laughter –

“Friends” followed the lives of six New Yorkers navigating adulthood, dating and careers. It was a mainstay of NBC’s vaunted 1990s and early 2000s lineup and drew a massive global following.

But despite delivering on-air gag after gag — and earning a fortune — Perry was distressed.

He attended multiple rehabilitation clinics to combat addiction to painkillers and alcohol. In 2018 he suffered a burst colon, related to drug usage, and underwent multiple surgeries, then used a colostomy bag for months.

In his memoir “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” published last year, Perry described going through detox dozens of times, and spending millions of dollars in repeated attempts to get sober.

He dedicated the book to “all of the sufferers out there,” and wrote in the prologue: “I should be dead.”

“People would be surprised to know that I have mostly been sober since 2001. Save for about sixty or seventy little mishaps over the years,” he wrote.

TMZ, which first reported the news Saturday, said no drugs were found at the scene. The LA Times and TMZ both said there were no signs of foul play, citing anonymous sources.

– Beating up future PM –

Perry was born in Massachusetts in 1969, then raised between Montreal and Los Angeles after his parents separated.

His father was a US actor and his mother a Canadian journalist who served as press secretary to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau — father of Justin Trudeau.

Speaking on US late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live, Perry admitted to being less than proud over one childhood memory — how he and a friend picked on their schoolmate Justin Trudeau.

“We both beat him up. I think he was excelling at a sport that we weren’t, so it was pure jealousy,” he said. “I’m not bragging about this, this is terrible. I was a stupid kid.”

As a teenager, Perry was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada before moving to California and pursuing acting.

In the 1980s, Perry had guest roles in popular shows including “Charles in Charge” and “Growing Pains.”

He was the final, and youngest, lead actor cast for “Friends.”

Perry and his co-stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — negotiated $1 million each, per episode, by the end of their colossally popular and zeitgeist-setting 236-episode run.

In a sign of enduring appeal, the gang reportedly pocketed $2.5 million each for a reunion show in 2021.

But Perry’s slurred speech on that episode prompted concern among fans.

He also surprised his co-stars by admitting to suffering severe anxiety “every night” during the sitcom’s filming.

Perry appeared in movies such as “Fools Rush In” and “The Whole Nine Yards.”

He was nominated for five Emmys, including two for guest appearances on “The West Wing,” but never won the prestigious television award.

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