Matthew Perry was a well-known Canadian-American actor, best known for his role as Chandler Bing on the popular television series “Friends.” Matthew Langford Perry was born on August 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA.
His parents, John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Morrison were both involved in the entertainment industry. His father was an actor and model, while his mother was a press agent and former Canadian journalist. Perry’s interest in acting began at a young age. He moved to Canada with his mother after his parents’ divorce, and there he got involved in acting. He attended Ashbury College and then studied acting in Ottawa.
He made his acting debut, at 10 years old, as Arthur in “240-Robert”. It is an American drama series that ran on ABC from August 28, 1979, to March 21, 1981. The series title is a reference to the call-sign designation for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s search and rescue/paramedic teams. Next he appeared in episodes of “Not Necessarily the News” (1983), “Charles in Charge” (1985), and “Silver Spoons” (1986). In 1987 sitcom he appeared as, series regular, Chazz Russell in 21 episodes of “Second Chance” (which later became “Boys Will Be Boys”).
In 1988 he was in the TV movie, “Dance ’til Dawn” with Christina Applegate, Alyssa Milano, Tracey Gold, Alan Thicke, and Kelsey Grammer. Perry was in episodes of “Just the Ten of Us” (1988), “Highway to Heaven” (1988), “Empty Nest” (1989), “Growing Pains” (1989), and was a series regular in 13 episodes of “Sydney” (1990), playing the brother of Sydney Kells (Valerie Bertinelli), a private investigator from a family of police officers, who relocates her one-woman private detective agency from New York City to her small hometown.
Next, he was in another TV movie, “Call Me Anna” (1990) playing Desi Arnaz Jr. He was in episodes of “Who’s the Boss?” (1990), “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1991), “Dream On” (1992), “Sibs” (1992), and in the 1993 TV movie, “Deadly Relations”, starring Robert Urich, Shelley Fabares and Gwyneth Paltrow. Perry was a series regular in 13 episodes of “Home Free” (1993), and the 1994 TV movie, “Parallel Lives”.
From 1994 and 2004 he played Chandler Bing alongside Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, in “Friends”. The show about six single New Yorkers navigating the complexities of adulthood quickly became a cultural phenomenon.
Perry, who was only 25 years old when the series began, became a household name. As Chandler Bing—the witty roommate to LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani, and eventual love interest of Cox’s Monica Geller—Perry was an essential piece of the Friends ensemble. His dry humor and distinctive delivery etched Chandler’s place into pop culture, with catchphrases and memorable moments that fans still cherish today. The sitcom ran 236 episodes.
Other televison included “Caroline in the City” (1995), “The John Larroquette Show” (1995), “Saturday Night Live” (Host – 1997), “The Simpsons” (Voice – 2001), “Ally McBeal” (2002), “The West Wing” (2003), “Scrubs” (2004),
he played the lead role in the TV movie “The Ron Clark Story” (2005), was a series regular in “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (21 ep. 2006-07), “Childrens Hospital” (2011), played Ben Donovan in “Mr. Sunshine” (13 ep. – also creator/ executive producer/ writer – 2011), “The Good Wife” (4 ep. 2012–13 – 2012-13), was regular in “Go On” (22 ep. – executive producer – 2012-13), “Cougar Town” (2014), “Playhouse Presents” (2014), “Web Therapy” (2015),
he played Oscar Madison on “The Odd Couple” (38 ep.- also executive producer/ writer – 2015-17), “The Good Fight” (2017), played Ted Kennedy in “The Kennedys: After Camelot” (ep. 4 – executive producer – 2017, and “Friends: The Reunion” (HBO -also executive producer – 2021).
Perry also appeared in several movies over the years including his debut in 1988 in “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon” starring River Phoenix, “She’s Out of Control” starribg Tony Danza (1989), “Fat Man and Little Boy” starring Paul Newman (1989),
“Getting In” (1994), starring in “Fools Rush In” with Salma Hayek (1997), starring in “Almost Heroes” with Chris Farley (1998), starring in “Three to Tango” with Neve Campbell, Dylan McDermott (1999), starring in “The Whole Nine Yards” with Bruce Willia, Amanda Peet (2000), “The Kid (also known as Disney’s The Kid)” (2000), starring in “Serving Sara” with Elizabeth Hurley, and Bruce Campbell (2002),
starring in the sequel “The Whole Ten Yards” with Bruce Willis, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak (2004), starring and executive producer in “Numb” (2007), starring in “Birds of America” (2008), and starring in “17 Again” with Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, and Michelle Trachtenberg (2009).
In his book, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry stated that he became an alcoholic at age 14. He became addicted to Vicodin after a jet-ski accident in 1997, and he completed a 28-day rehab program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that year. His weight dropped as low as 128 pounds, and he took as many as 55 Vicodin pills per day. At age 30, he suffered from alcohol-induced pancreatitis and erectile dysfunction; in May 2000, he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment – not just to his work, but in life as well. He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart.Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and its executive producer Kevin Bright (joint statement)
His trouble with addiction was never ending and in 2022, he estimated that $9 million was spent on his addiction, including 14 stomach surgeries, 15 stays in rehab, and therapy twice a week for 30 years. He believed he had attended approximately 6,000 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
In July 2011, Perry lobbied the US Congress as a celebrity spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in support of funding for drug courts. He received a Champion of Recovery award in May 2013 from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for opening , a rehab center in his former mansion in Malibu, California.
In 2015, Perry sold the mansion and relocated its services.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Perry launched an apparel line inspired by Friends, with proceeds donated to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 relief fund. On October 28, 2023, Perry was found unresponsive in his hot tub at his home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, and was later pronounced dead, most likely from a heart attack.
We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. In time we will say more, as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer (joint statement)
Perry leaves parents John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Perry, who split up when he was a baby. He has five half-siblings. He never married and had no children.
- Biography.com Editors. (2021). Matthew Perry. Biography. https://www.biography.com/actor/matthew-perry
- Fernandez, M. (2001). A Reunion for Matthew Perry: Rehab. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/20/us/a-reunion-for-matthew-perry-rehab.html
- Miller, T. (2020). Matthew Perry opens up about his struggles with addiction and recovery. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/matthew-perry-opens-struggles-addiction-recovery/story?id=72309822
- “Matthew Perry’s “Friends” co-stars react to his death at 54: “We are all so utterly devastated” (OCTOBER 30, 2023) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/matthew-perry-death-friends-costars-react/
- “Matthew Perry’s ‘Friends’ castmates say his loss is ‘utterly devastating'” (Oct. 30, 2023) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/matthew-perrys-friends-cast-mates-say-loss-utterly-devastating-rcna122668