Luke Perry, the genial and beloved actor best known for playing Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Fred Andrews on Riverdale, has died. He was 52.
Perry died Monday after suffering a massive stroke in his Los Angeles home on Feb. 27, his representative Arnold Robinson confirmed in a statement.
“He was surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, fiancé Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett, brother Tom Perry, sister Amy Coder, and other close family and friends,” Robinson said. “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.”
Born in Ohio where he worked as an asphalt paver, Perry came to Los Angeles after graduating from high school to become an actor. He started off in the daytime soaps Loving and Another World before nabbing the role of a lifetime as Dylan, a rich, high-haired loner at Beverly Hills High School who fell hard for Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and then Kelly (Jennie Garth). Though the Fox brass apparently had its reservations, Perry was the top choice of 90210 Creator Aaron Spelling. “Originally, nobody wanted me but him,” Perry told EW in 1994. “And I said, ‘Look, you put me on that show, I will kick its ass, man.'”
Perry’s 10-year-run on 90210 earned him heartthrob status among fans worldwide and continued to define the actor well into adulthood. Reporters, in particular, would always find a way to bring up the iconic character in conversations about his latest work, like how Us Weekly in 2017 asked if he would ever allow his two kids to binge 90210. That would be a no. “That’s the way it should be, though, I don’t want them to dwell on it,” said Perry, who added that he wouldn’t want his daughter to date a Dylan-type, either. “I know that brother, I know what he’s up to.”
After 90210 was canceled, Perry went after roles that were decidedly anti-Dylan. In 2001, he played Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier in HBO’s Oz, a surfing promoter on John from Cincinnati in 2007, a lottery winner on Windfall in a 2006, and a cult leader on Criminal Minds in 2008. In 2016, the CW cast Perry as Archie’s father Fred Andrews in the hit drama Riverdale, which led to a brand new generation of Perry admirers. He was in Los Angeles shooting scenes for the Vancouver-based show when the stroke occurred.
“All the (90210) madness made me doubt myself as an actor,” Perry also told EW in that 1994 interview. “I don’t anymore, and now I’m pissed at myself that I ever did … I feel better than I ever have about where I’m going. The frenzy dying away forces people to look at the clearer picture. What’s all this about? Get the s— out of the way and let’s see what this is about! I’ve always been fairly confident of my abilities-I just didn’t know how much s—could get in the way.”
The actor’s stroke occurred the same day Fox announced it was reuniting several of the 90210 stars for a summer series. Perry, along with Shannen Doherty, had not intended to participate, but the network said the door was open for him to join Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, and Tori Spelling on the show.
Perry, who was divorced, leaves behind two children.