Luke Perry, the Riverdale star and actor best known for his role as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210, has died, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday. He was 52.
Perry had suffered a massive stroke, his rep Arnold Robinson told THR. “He was surrounded by his children, Jack and Sophie; fiancé, Wendy Madison Bauer; ex-wife, Minnie Sharp; mother, Ann Bennett; stepfather, Steve Bennett; brother, Tom Perry; sister, Amy Coder; and other close family and friends,” said Robinson. “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.”
The actor was hospitalised after suffering a stroke on Feb. 27 and had been under observation.
News of Perry’s hospitalisation coincided with the announcement that Fox would be reviving Beverly Hills, 90210, in which Perry played McKay during the original show’s run through the 1990s. The upcoming series sees six original stars returning to play heightened versions of themselves; however, Perry was not involved in the project. THR has reached out about the show’s status given the news.
Perry’s 90210 co-stars, including Ian Ziering and Shannen Doherty, had taken to social media to share their public support after news of his hospitalization last week. Over the weekend, Doherty, who played his on-screen girlfriend Brenda Walsh early on in the Fox drama, said she had been in touch with the actor since his stroke. “I can’t talk about it here ’cause I will literally start crying but I love him and he knows I love him. It’s Luke, and he’s my Dylan,” she told ET over the weekend.
“I’m going to be linked with him until I die, but that’s actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He’s mine,” the actor once said about the career-defining role.
Perry, born Coy Luther Perry III in Mansfield, Ohio Perry had initially auditioned for the role of Steve Sanders (played by Ziering) before being cast as McKay, the resident bad boy of the zip code in 90210.
The brooding millionaire’s son would go on to romance Brenda Walsh (played by Doherty) and Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) in the Fox teen drama, resulting in two defining TV couples of the ’90s. Perry also did not appear in The CW’s 90210 reboot, which featured original stars Garth, Doherty and Tori Spelling, when it launched in 2008.
Ziering posted a photo of himself and Perry on Instagram on Monday with the caption, “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 you, he deserves it.”
The 52-year-old actor had been starring on The CW’s comic book adaptation Riverdale, which films in Vancouver.
“We are deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Luke Perry,” said the Riverdale executive producers — Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jon Goldwater — Warner Bros. TV and The CW in a statement to THR. “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.”
Of his Riverdale role, Perry told THR in January 2017, “I like playing the dad because I like being a dad, and I think it’s a great character in the milieu of this show that I’m the grounded one, and I’m the guy who really cares about K.J., who cares about doing a good job and being a good construction worker. I love that.”
Writers for the CW show shared their heartbreak via social media. “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,” read a post from the writers’ room. Molly Ringwald, who played his ex-wife, said her heart was “broken” on Twitter: “I will miss you so much Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family.
Perry got his acting start on daytime soap operas before 90210 launched him into teen idol fame. He made a marked turn to play Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier on HBO’s prison drama Oz, played the titular character on Showtime’s Jeremiah, and made appearances on hit TV shows Will & Grace and What I Like About You after landing 90210. He also made a voice cameo to play himself on Fox’s The Simpsons in 1993. After 90210 ended its run, Perry’s had recurring TV roles on NBC’s Windfall, HBO’s John From Cincinnati, NBC’s FCU: Fact Checkers Unit, ABC’s Body of Proof and UPtv’s Ties That Bind.
Before 90210, Perry starred in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie in 1992. “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,” wrote Buffy series creator Joss Whedon on Monday.
Perry was also set to appear Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is currently in post-production, as actor Wayne Maunder.