See Joey's Agent Estelle From "Friends" Now at 77
June Gable played the beloved (and much older) recurring character.
Matt LeBlanc's Joey Tribbiani faced a lot of ups and downs in his acting career across 10 seasons of Friends, from playing Al Pacino's butt double, to starring on a soap opera, to appearing alongside a robot in a terrible buddy cop show. And with him through it all was his gruff, sarcastic agent Estelle, played by Tony Award nominee June Gable, who was playing much older than her actual age at the time. (The actor once said that no one ever told her exactly how old Estelle is, but she imagined her to be in her 80s, at least.)
Gable came to the role amid a storied career on Broadway, in films, and on television, but after appearing on Friends, she largely retired from acting. Keep reading to learn what she's been doing since, and to see her now, at age 77.
READ THIS NEXT: See Paolo From Friends Now at 59.
She mostly stepped back from screen acting.
Before landing her role on Friends, Gable appeared in a pair of films, Brenda Starr and She-Devil (starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr), as well as a string of television guest roles on series including Kate & Allie, Miami Vice, Dream On, and Mad About You.
But when Friends ended in 2004 (or, more accurately, after Estelle was killed off in the 15th episode of the show's final season), Gable made the decision to retire from television acting, for the most part. She did later have a role in a 2016 pilot of the comedy Nunsense, based on the 1985 stage musical, but the show wasn't picked up as a series.
"As soon as Friends ended, I retired," Gable told Wealthsimple in 2021. "The man I loved was very ill and I wanted to be able to take care of him."
Gable credited her ability to retire to her membership in the actors' union. "I was very fortunate because of the Screen Actors Guild that I could afford to do that. When I was young, I paid dues to the union. I've never done a non-union job," she explained. "Most actors rarely have a professional job. So you get your [paycheck] and you think, oh God, look at all the money they took out. But really, that comes back in retirement. I get three pensions now, and I'll tell you what, that is a great blessing. Boy, those unions are fabulous."
She returned to her first love, the theater.
Long before she was working to get Joey gigs, Gable was a well-known stage actress, having appeared on Broadway in Nash at Nine, Candide (for which she was nominated for a Tony Award), The Ritz (replacing original cast member Rita Moreno), and the infamous one-night-only musical flop Moose Murders.
Despite her so-called retirement, she has continued to act on stage. "When Friends ended, I decided to come back and focus on theater," she recently told the YouTube interview show Ain't Broadway Grand. Since 2004, she has starred in productions of The Odd Couple; Picon Pie, a musical biography of the Yiddish stage star Molly Picon; and Broads!, a comedy set in a Florida retirement community in which she appeared alongside other Broadway veterans. She also spoke with Mel Brooks about replacing Cloris Leachman in the touring production of Young Frankenstein, but the production ended before she got the chance.
"I'm very grateful for television, but it never had as much meaning to me as the theater," she told Wealthsimple. "I would always rush back to New York even to work for nothing, or work for a smaller amount of money, to do the thing I loved."
She made a movie with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
Gable's most recent onscreen appearance came in the 2018 Netflix comedy The Week Of, directed by Saturday Night Live's Robert Smigel and starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
Though she enjoyed the experience—"I had a great time…I had a full summer of employment where we had a ball," she told Wealthsimple—it stuck with her for other reasons. "It's really interesting to look at the economics of acting now," she said. "It's really changed. All of these [streaming] venues don't pay any or very little residuals. I didn't realize that when you sign that kind of contract as an actor, you don't get residuals. I may never see a dime in residuals from this movie. Isn't that amazing?"
For more celebrity updates sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
She moved upstate.
Gable was born in Brooklyn and trod the boards on Broadway but found a quieter life in upstate New York.
"I fell in love with the area," she told Weathsimple. "I found part of a farm—it's beautiful with wildlife like I've never seen, even bears coming up to my door—and I said, this is where I am going to build a house. I designed it myself exactly as I knew would make me happy.
"It's just me; it's not a huge place," continued the actor, who never married. "Just an old-fashioned log cabin feel with one of those big old porches with huge beams where you can sit and look at the beauty of nature around you." (She still keeps an apartment in the city, however, she told Ain't Broadway Grand).
She landed a role in Ray Romano's directorial debut.
Gable has at least one more film appearance coming up—she landed a role in Somewhere in Queens, an upcoming comedic drama directed and co-written by actor Ray Romano. The film, in which Romano stars alongside Laurie Metcalf, follows the patriarch of a large Italian-American family living in the titular New York City borough. Gable plays "Mama Russo," Romano's character's mother.
Gable was in attendance when the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022. It currently has a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, but a release date has not yet been announced.