Luke Perry, the actor who became a teen idol from his role as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210 from 1990 to 1995, and again from 1998 to 2000, and currently co-stars as Archie’s dad Fred Andrews on The CW’s teen soap Riverdale, has died. He was 52.
Perry was hospitalized last week after suffering a “massive” stroke; according to TMZ, Perry was ultimately unable to recover from the damage he suffered during that stroke, and died this morning surrounded by family at a hospital in Burbank, California. Perry’s publicist has confirmed the news, saying in a statement, “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world.”
Luke Perry was born as Coy Luther Perry III on October 11, 1966, in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Ann Bennett, a homemaker, and Coy Luther Perry Jr., a steelworker. He was raised in Fredericktown, Ohio, and served as the school mascot for Fredericktown High School.
Perry moved to Los Angeles shortly after high school to pursue acting. He worked for an asphalt paving company and in a doorknob factory.
Perry auditioned for 256 acting jobs in New York before getting his first acting job. After appearing in the music video “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” for the band Twisted Sister alongside Alice Cooper, Perry’s earliest roles were in the daytime soap operas Loving (1987–88) and Another World (1988–89).
Rise to fame: 1990-1994
Following this, he won the role of the brooding millionaire’s son Dylan McKay on Fox’s teen drama, Beverly Hills, 90210. He had originally auditioned for the role of Steve Sanders but lost to actor Ian Ziering. While starring on 90210, Perry won a supporting role in the original film version of Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992). It was during this period of the early 1990s in which Perry became a popular teen idol. He also starred in Terminal Bliss in 1992, and as Lane Frost in 8 Seconds in 1994.
In an attempt to find more mature roles, he decided to leave Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1995. In the same year, he took a part in the Italian movie Vacanze di Natale ’95, playing himself. Although he announced that 90210 was behind him, his absence would last only three years.
During that time, Perry starred in the independent film Normal Life opposite Ashley Judd, starred in the TV science fiction movie Invasion (1997), and a Rodney King drama Riot (1997), and he had a small role in Luc Besson’s science fiction adventure film The Fifth Element (1997). In 1998 he returned to 90210 for financial reasons. Perry then starred in the 1999 film Storm and went on to star in a 2002 television movie called The Triangle.
From 2001 to 2002, he starred in the HBO prison drama Oz, as the Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier. From 2002 to 2004 he starred in the post-apocalyptic TV series Jeremiah.
In 2006, Perry co-starred in the ensemble drama series Windfall, about a group of friends who win the lottery. The series ran for 13 episodes during the summer of 2006 on NBC. In 2007, he landed the role of Tommy “Santa” Santorelli on the film The Sandlot: Heading Home, and he appeared in the 2008 western A Gunfighter’s Pledge.
Perry also appeared in the 2007 HBO series John from Cincinnati. He also starred in the Swedish film Äntligen Midsommar (Finally Midsummer), which was released in the summer of 2009.
He said of his role on Beverly Hills, 90210 as Dylan McKay: “I’m going to be linked with him until I die, but that’s actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He’s mine.” However, he did not reprise his role on the spin-off. He stated: “When you’re in the professional acting business, you have to look into all these offers, and I don’t mean anything bad about it but creatively it’s something I have done before and I don’t know how it will benefit me if I do it again.”
Perry eventually revealed a major reason why he did not want to be part of this revival, citing the show’s longtime producer Aaron Spelling: “The difference between CW bringing something back and Aaron Spelling doing something back is significant. And I cannot do it without Aaron.” However, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling reprised their roles in the 2008 revival of the series.
Perry did considerable voice-over work for various animated series, often playing himself. He played himself (as Krusty the Clown’s half brother) in an episode of The Simpsons (1993). He voiced himself in an episode of Johnny Bravo, giving Johnny dating advice after Johnny saved him from a stampede of fan girls. Perry parodied himself in an episode of Family Guy, in which he was labeled as gay by Peter and sues the family. His other voice work includes The Incredible Hulk, Biker Mice from Mars, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and The Night of the Headless Horseman.
Perry guest-starred as gay characters in the sitcoms Spin City (1997) and Will & Grace (2005); he appeared as Carter Heywood’s ex-boyfriend who subsequently fell in love with a woman on Spin City and played a geeky birdwatcher who caught the eye of Jack McFarland on Will & Grace.
In 2005, Perry was reunited with former 90210 co-star Jennie Garth when he guest-starred on What I Like About You in a loose parody of their 90210 characters’ relationship.
In 2008, Perry guest-starred as rapist Noah Sibert in the season premiere of the television series Law & Order: SVU. He also guest-starred as cult leader Benjamin Cyrus in an episode of Criminal Minds.
In late 2009, Perry starred in The Killers’ music video for their fourth annual Christmas single, “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!”
Also in 2009, Perry lent his voice talents in the Thomas Nelson’s audio Bible production known as The Word of Promise. In this dramatized audio, Perry played the characters of Saint Stephen and Judas the disciple. The project also featured a large ensemble of other well-known Hollywood actors including Jim Caviezel, Lou Gossett Jr., John Rhys-Davies, Jon Voight, Gary Sinise, Jason Alexander, Christopher McDonald, Marisa Tomei, Stacy Keach and John Schneider.
Perry appeared on Broadway in 2001, in a revival of The Rocky Horror Show, playing Brad Majors.
In 2004, he appeared in the London production of When Harry Met Sally as Harry, alongside Alyson Hannigan as Sally. He played a con man/psychic in a second season episode of Leverage in 2010, and then appeared as the American version of Inspector Spacetime in an episode of Community in 2013, titled “Biology 101”.
Personal life and death
Perry married Rachel Minnie Sharp on November 20, 1993 in Beverly Hills. They separated in 2003. The couple had two children, Jack (born June 15, 1997) and Sophie (born June 7, 2000). His son, Jack, is a professional wrestler known by his ring name “Jungle Boy” Nate Coy, who is signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Perry became an advocate for testing for colon cancer after undergoing a colonoscopy in 2015 that revealed pre-cancerous growths.
Perry had a massive stroke at his home in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, on February 27, 2019. He died from complications on March 4. At the time of his death, Perry was engaged to Wendy Madison Bauer.
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Dearest Luke, 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. God please give him a seat close to to you, he deserves it.
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With the heaviest of hearts, I am stunned and devastated to tell you that Luke passed away. I am still in shock and I have no words beyond saying he was a truly kind gentleman. He will be mourned and missed by everyone who knew him and the millions who love him. RIP, dearie Luke. Your time here was far too short. 💔💔💔
My heart is broken. I will miss you so much Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family. ❤️ #LukePerry
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) March 4, 2019
Luke Perry… you were a joyful and vibrant soul. You will be missed but most certainly your legacy will be remembered forever. Rest in love and peace, friend. #Riverdale
— Riverdale Writers Room (@RiverdaleWriter) March 4, 2019