The Matthew Perry Foundation launched Friday, less than a week after the actor’s death, and will raise money to assist people with addiction.
Perry had been working to establish his fund before his sudden death on Saturday, Oct. 28 at age 54, according to People. In the latter years of his life, the comedic actor had been candid about his addiction issues, which he struggled with during the height of his fame. He had long said that when he died, he did not want “Friends” to be the first thing people remember about him, but rather his efforts to help others who also sought recovery.
“The Matthew Perry Foundation is the realization of Matthew’s enduring commitment to helping others struggling with the disease of addiction,” a statement read on the fund’s website. “It will honor his legacy and be guided by his own words and experiences and driven by his passion for making a difference in as many lives as possible.”
The fund is accepting donations through the National Philanthropic Trust, the charitable organization that will distribute the funds.
In his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” Perry recounted his decades-long struggles with substances and his efforts toward recovery. Perry estimated that he had spent more than $7 million over 15 rehab stays treating his addictions to alcohol and drugs, including opioids.
He detailed a near-death experience in 2018 where, in large part because of his drug use, he spent two weeks in a coma with an exploded colon and endured a dozen stomach surgeries. When he was first admitted to the hospital, physicians gave him a 2% chance to live through the night.
During a “Friends” reunion special in 2021, Perry shared how his addiction had been fueled by the pressure while acting on the hit sitcom to land a joke in front of a live audience, night after night.
“I was taking 55 Vicodin a day, I weighed 128 pounds, I was on ‘Friends’ getting watched by 30 million people,” Perry recalled during a live interview with Tom Power in 2022 to promote his memoir. “That’s why I can’t watch the show, ‘cause I was brutally thin and being beaten down by the disease.”
He added that his addiction issues weren’t for lack of will or desire, but that he had a disease. “It’s not fair,” he said, beginning to tear up, “it’s not fair that I had to go through this disease while the other five [‘Friends’ stars] didn’t — they got everything I got, but I had to fight this thing, and still have to fight this thing.”
Right after his death, those around Perry — including “Friends” creator Marta Kauffman — said he was sober and described him as being “in a really good place.” As recently as October 2022, Perry said he was 18 months sober, according to the New York Times. Investigators did not find any illicit drugs at his Pacific Palisades home after his assistant found him unresponsive in his hot tub. An investigation into the cause of his death, led by the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner , may take three to six months.
Perry told The Times in April during the Festival of Books that he wanted to be remembered as “a guy who lived life, loved well, lived well and helped people. That running into me was a good thing, and not something bad.”
The new fund’s website also quotes the actor: “Addiction is far too powerful for anyone to defeat alone. But together, one day at a time, we can beat it down.”
After his death, fans and fellow celebrities poured out tributes for the actor, with many recalling his candor around his addiction and sobriety challenges.
Adele had paused her Las Vegas show on Saturday to speak about Perry, commending him in front of the Colosseum at Caesars Palace audience. “He was so open with his struggles with addiction and sobriety, which I think is incredibly, incredibly brave,” the singer said.
“His life showed the worst of this illness and the best hopes for our ability to overcome it,” said William C. Moyers, vice president of public affairs for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation — the national addiction treatment center with facilities in Rancho Mirage, Minnesota, Florida and Oregon — after Perry’s death.
”His willingness to share his story so publicly captured the reality that hope is real,” Moyers added. “Regardless of what his cause of death is, he kept fighting and fell and got back up, and was never ashamed to share that truth.”