Luke Perry, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ and ‘Riverdale’ Star, Dead at 52
Luke Perry, star of Beverly Hills 90210 and Riverdale, died Monday at the age of 52.
“Actor Luke Perry, 52, passed away today after suffering a massive stroke,” publicist Arnold Robinson said in a statement. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.”
TMZ reported that Perry had suffered a “massive” stroke last Wednesday, claiming that he was responsive when medical professional arrived but was later transported to the hospital and placed under sedation when his condition deteriorated.
Perry is best remembered for playing the handsome, troubled loner Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210 in the show’s first six seasons; he reprised the role for seasons nine and 10. More recently, he played Archie’s father Fred Andrews on Riverdale. When news broke of an upcoming 90210 reboot, he was not named as one of the returning cast members.
“We are deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Luke Perry,” the Riverdale executive producers, Warner Bros. TV and the CW said in a statement. “A beloved member of the Riverdale, Warner Bros. and CW family, Luke was everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart, and a true friend to all. A father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast, Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness. Our thoughts are with Luke’s family during this most difficult time.
Perry’s Riverdale cast mate Molly Ringwald tweeted Monday, “My heart is broken. I will miss you so much Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family.”
Ian Ziering, who starred alongside Perry in Beverly Hills, 90210, tweeted:
I will forever bask in the loving memories we've shared over the last thirty years. May your journey forward be enriched by the magnificent souls who have passed before you, just like you have done here, for those you leave behind.
— Ian Ziering (@IanZiering) March 4, 2019
Coy Luther Perry III was born in Mansfield, Ohio to a steelworker and a homemaker and grew up in that state’s Fredericktown. In a 1993 interview, Perry said that he had been auditioning for many roles before landing 90210 but to little success. His day job was laying asphalt as a construction worker. His credits during that time included a recurring role on the soap opera Another World and a couple of bit parts on TV shows.
“The show has changed my life immeasurably,” he said in the interview. “Life is certainly never going to be the same. It has been good for the most part. It certainly has some drawbacks, but I’m not bitchin’.”
At the height of Beverly Hills 90210‘s popularity, the main cast appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. “I know that a lot of people are casting a very cynical eye my way, in terms of what happens in the future,” Perry said in the cover story, which detailed his meteoric rise from struggling actor to teen idol. “I’m not worried about being a big star. But it makes me nervous when people talk about it like it’s already happened.”
While doing 90210, Perry also appeared in the original film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the rodeo drama 8 Seconds, the sci-fi epic The Fifth Element and he voiced himself on an episode of The Simpsons. Perry also worked as a voice actor on the series Biker Mice From Mars, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and The Incredible Hulk, among others. In the early 2000s, he played the Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier on Oz and the titular character on Jeremiah, a show about a surviving a postapocalyptic future.
The first time I met Luke Perry we talked about what kind of movie we wanted “Buffy” to be. I asked if he’d ever seen “Near Dark” and he gave me a look of HOW DARE YOU SIR and I knew we’d get along. Funny, committed, and always gracious. He shouldn’t be gone.
— Joss Whedon (@joss) March 4, 2019
He continued to make appearances on shows like Hot in Cleveland and Will & Grace in subsequent years and had recurring roles on Windfall, John From Cincinnati, FCU: Fact Checkers Unit, Body of Proof and Ties That Bind. Prior to his death, Perry reportedly portrayed actor Wayne Maunder in the 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film about an actor (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double trying to make it in the motion picture business in 1969.
Luke Perry was a kindhearted and incredibly talented artist. It was an honor to be able to work with him. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 4, 2019
Off camera, Perry has played Brad Majors in a Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show and starred opposite Alyson Hannigan in a London production of When Harry Met Sally.
Perry married Rachel Minnie Sharp in 1993, and the couple had a boy, Jack, and a girl, Sophie, before their divorce in 2003.
The actor reflected on the longevity of his role on 90210 in a 2017 interview with Rachael Ray. “I am kind of surprised at the young teenagers who catch it in reruns,” he said. “They still find stories 20 years old at this point compelling. And they binge-watch them. … It’s been a good ride.”