US actor Luke Perry dead at age 52
American actor Luke Perry, the former star of 1990s television series "Beverly Hills, 90210," died, aged 52, after suffering a massive stroke last week, his publicist said.
With brooding James Dean-like looks and a creased brow, actor Luke Perry had the once-in-a-generation face that plastered the bedroom walls of millions of teenage girls.
Perry, one of the stars of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and, more recently, the Archie Comics reboot Riverdale, has died after suffering a stroke.
The 52-year-old actor was hospitalised last week and was reportedly under observation; his publicist Arnold Robinson confirmed the actor passed away today.
He was surrounded by his close friends and family, including his children, siblings, fiancee and former wife, Robinson said.
In a way that only Hollywood could write it, Perry's death comes as the series that catapulted him to global fame was being rebooted with most of its original cast.
His Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty, who played Brenda Walsh, the on-screen girlfriend of Perry's "bad boy" Dylan McKay in the series, released a statement today expressing her sorrow.
"I love him and he knows I love him," she said. "It's Luke, and he's my Dylan."
Another of his 90210 co-stars, actor Ian Ziering, said he would "forever bask in the loving memories we've shared over the last thirty years. God please give him a seat close to you, he deserves it."
Perry was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and moved to New York and then Los Angeles after graduating high school to pursue acting.
Prior to finding fame on Beverly Hills, 90210, Perry had roles in the daytime soap operas Loving and Another World, which were filmed in New York. In 1992 he starred in the original film version of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.
Writer/producer Joss Whedon, who cast him in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, recalled today discussing the role with Perry and asking him if he'd seen the cult neo-western horror film Near Dark.
"He gave me a look of, how dare you sir, and I knew we'd get along," Whedon said. "[He was] funny, committed and always gracious. He shouldn't be gone."
Ultimately, however, it was playing a teenager in the high school soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210 which gave Perry the kind of fame few actors experience.
The series, from the legendary producer Aaron Spelling and writer Darren Star, was one of the most successful in the history of US television.
Perry appeared in the series from 1990 to 1995 and then again from 1998 to 2000.
Seemingly forever typecast as a high school bad boy, Perry faded from prominence after the series ended, taking roles in television movies and guest roles in programs such as Community, Raising Hope and Criminal Minds.
In 2002 he delivered a stunning performance as Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier in the HBO prison drama Oz, vindication of a sort that despite his status as a teen idol, he was also an actor of considerable substance.
Despite being inescapably associated with Beverly, Hills 90210, a role which was both a gift and also limited his subsequent opportunities as an actor, Perry was always gracious about the mixed blessing.
"I'm going to be linked with him until I die but that's actually just fine," he once said. "I created Dylan McKay. He's mine."
Recently, Perry returned to prominence playing Fred Andrews, the conservative father of high school student Archie Andrews in Riverdale, the television reboot of the Archie Comics.
Actress Molly Ringwald, who played Perry's on-screen ex-wife in the series, said via social media: "My heart is broken. I will miss you so much Luke Perry."
How Perry's death will be treated by the planned reboot of 90210 is not yet clear.
The project has six members of the original cast attached, playing "heightened" versions of themselves dealing with fame decades after the series ended; Perry was not involved in the project.
Dearest Luke,— Ian Ziering (@IanZiering) March 4, 2019
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.
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
Production on Riverdale has been halted to give the cast and crew time to grieve.
A statement from the show's executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jon Goldwater said Perry was "everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart, and a true friend to all."
"[He was] a father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast," the statement said. "Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness."
Luke Perry - Irreplaceable beautiful and kind human being, incredible friend, generous actor and adoring father to Jack and Sophie and loving partner to Madison we are all heartbroken. You are the love and you are the light. pic.twitter.com/X3ycTvmXsb— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 4, 2019
Actress Gabrielle Carteris, one of Perry's 90210 co-stars who is now the president of the Screen Actors Guild, described Perry as a "tremendous force in the lives of so many."
"He was a very sensitive soul who was kind, generous and he fought for the underdog," Carteris said. "He was a strong voice and an advocate who will be so missed by all who knew him. He has left his mark, never to be forgotten."
Perry's publicist asked for privacy on the family's behalf.
"The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world," he said. "No further details will be released at this time."
In a fitting epitaph, Perry does leave behind one as-yet-unseen performance, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, playing actor Wayne Maunder.
The film is currently in post-production and will be released later this year.
Perry is survived by his daughter Sophie and his son Jack, a professional wrestler.