On Oct. 28, 2023, it was announced to the public that the 54-year-old actor, Matthew Perry, passed away in his home. The news came as a huge shock and devastation to everyone. Perry brought plenty of smiles and laughs to audiences’ faces with his unique humor on and off the screen. He was an inspiration to many for his journey with substance abuse and advocacy for rehabilitation. Later, Perry would make it his life’s mission to help others battle addiction. Matthew Perry’s life and legacy will continue to live on through his family, friends and fans. 

Matthew Perry was born in Massachusetts on Aug. 19, 1969, to parents Suzanne Morrison and actor John Bennett Perry, and was later raised in Canada for most of his life. His parents separated, and his mother went on to marry Canadian broadcast journalist Keith Morrison. Growing up, Perry got into some trouble in school and started drinking at the age of 14. He later moved to Los Angeles to be with his father and started studying acting and comedy while in high school. 

After a few small cameos and guest appearances on TV shows, Perry made his big breakthrough with NBC’s famous sitcom, “Friends.” The beloved show about the daily lives of six adults finding their way through their mid-to-late 20s in New York was a massive success. The show ran for a decade, pulling in millions of viewers. As “Friends” grew into an international hit, Perry became a huge celebrity along with his co-stars.

Since the show came out in the ’90s to early ’00s, many people grew up watching it. Perry played Chandler Bing, one of the main characters, known for his sense of humor and sarcasm. Chandler was loved by many for his quick wit and banter with his other friends. From his entertaining bromance with Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc, to his heartfelt romance with Monica Geller, played by Courtney Cox, Perry was at the forefront of many iconic moments of the show.   

Besides his big hit with “Friends,” Perry went on to star in other hit shows and movies. He appeared in a few episodes of the popular American legal comedy-drama series, “Ally McBeal,” and also had leading roles in films such as “Fools Rush In” (1997), “Serving Sera” (2002) and “17 Again” (2009). The actor was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for his performances in the TV series, “The West Wing” (2003), “The Ron Clark Story” (2006) and “Friends” (2002).

Despite all the smiles and laughs on “Friends,” Perry was dealing with dark times behind the camera. Unfortunately, the fame and pressure got to him, and he started to struggle with alcohol and substance abuse. In a 2016 interview with Britain’s BBC Radio 2 show, Perry admitted that he did not remember filming seasons three through six. The actor’s co-stars on “Friends” often tried to talk to him, even holding interventions to help him stop, but to no avail. Perry sought treatment 15 times before finally quitting drugs and alcohol. He spent millions on his addiction recovery, going through many stomach surgeries and AA meetings before quitting. Despite the tough struggle Perry faced, he worked hard to reach sobriety. 

Once Perry found strength in his sobriety, he dedicated much of his time to helping others recover from addiction. In 2013, Perry converted his old Malibu beach house into a men’s sober living home named “Perry House.” However, the house was sold two years later due to the financial costs. The actor became a vocal advocate for the treatment of criminals with substance abuse issues rather than incarceration. Many people have come forward with their own stories, detailing how Perry personally reached out and helped them get sober. 

At 18 months sober, Perry published his very candid autobiography, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” (2022). The book not only discussed his time in the limelight on “Friends” but included the dark truth of his addiction and the ups and downs on the road to recovery. Perry was incredibly intimate in his book, detailing his close calls with death and many years of struggling with addiction. The details and shocking moments shook fans, such as the actor taking 55 Vicodin a day at the height of his addiction. Inspired by the memoir, readers in a similar boat were able to identify with Perry and get sober. The candor and intimacy of the book revealed the heart of the actor and his courage to step forward with his story. 

Despite the amount of fame and popularity Perry received from “Friends,” he was determined to ensure the show wouldn’t be the thing people remember him by. In a promotional appearance for his memoir, Perry tells the interviewer, “When I die, I don’t want ‘Friends’ to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want [helping other addicts] to be the first thing that’s mentioned, and I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that.” While Perry recognized the jumpstart and privileges the show gave him, he wanted his life to be remembered for the value and care he put toward helping others. 

Before Perry died, he wanted to set up a foundation that helped those who were struggling with substance abuse. Motivated by his journey and struggles, the late actor had plans to further his mission of helping addicts toward recovery. The National Philanthropic Trust, Perry’s friends and loved ones recognized his commitment and launched the Matthew Perry Foundation following his death. The Foundation plans to “honor his legacy and be guided by his own words and experiences.” It is now accepting donations and has raised more than $49 billion since its launch. 

Matthew Perry was an actor that many people hold dear in their hearts for his charisma, humor and heart. Through many years of hard work and perseverance, the actor was able to overcome his battle and become an inspiring figure to others. While Chandler Bing is a character loved by many, what will be remembered the most from Matthew Perry is his dedication to helping others fight past their struggles.