Luke Perry, who burst onto the tv scene and numerous fan-magazine covers in 1990 as one of many core solid members of the Fox drama “Beverly Hills, 90210,” then went on to a busy profession in tv and movie that included, most just lately, the CW collection “Riverdale,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 52.
His household introduced the demise. He had been hospitalized after a stroke final Wednesday.
On “Beverly Hills, 90210,” a collection about younger individuals in a well-off ZIP code, Mr. Perry performed Dylan McKay, a bad-boy teenager who struggled with alcoholism. The present, after a sluggish first season, turned a success and a pop-culture phenomenon, and the handsome Mr. Perry was a major cause.
“Young women are obviously lured by the guys-to-drool-over factor,” Caryn James wrote in The New York Times in August 1991. “Luke Perry and Jason Priestley, the actors who play Dylan and Brandon, are today’s favorite TV heartthrobs, their kissable photographs, clean-cut family backgrounds and list of wholesome hobbies flooding magazines for teenagers.”
At a time when a lot TV fare aimed at youthful audiences was pretty tame, “Beverly Hills, 90210” combined its romantic intrigues with critical themes, like teenage being pregnant and racism. Mr. Perry, who was 24 when the present started (though he performed a youngster), stayed for the primary six seasons, left for Seasons 7 and eight, then returned for the ultimate two.
The collection led to 2000 after nearly 300 episodes and spawned a number of spinoffs, together with “Melrose Place” and the 2008 reboot “90210.” Another reboot was just lately introduced.
For Mr. Perry, whose most important credit earlier than “ 90210” had been a handful of episodes of the cleaning soap opera “Another World,” mega-stardom was unexpected.
“I just always felt fortunate to have a job,” he told the Australian TV program “The Morning Show” in 2013. “I don’t think any of us had any idea what was going to happen with it and how long the impact of it would last.”
In addition to all those teenage fans, the show’s success brought Mr. Perry parts in films like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992), “The Fifth Element” (1997) and “Redemption Road” (2010). He also made dozens of television appearances, including regular roles on the prison drama “Oz,” the post-apocalyptic series “Jeremiah,” the crime drama “Body of Proof” and “Riverdale,” the CW series based on the Archie comics, on which he played Archie’s father.
The producers of “Riverdale” said in a statement, “A father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast, Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness.”
Coy Luther Perry III was born on Oct. 11, 1966, in Mansfield, Ohio, to Coy and Ann Perry. His parents divorced when he was 6. He told Vanity Fair in 1992 that his father had been abusive toward his mother, something that he internalized and that led him to urge that “90210” not talk down to its audience.
“Looking back at it all now, it was pretty frightening,” he told Vanity Fair. “I try to reiterate to these people writing the show that these kids ain’t stupid. They see. They know. ‘Don’t be afraid to talk to them about real issues on a real level.’ ”
When his mother remarried, Mr. Perry moved with her to Fredericktown, Ohio. There, he told The Mansfield News Journal in 2010, he played Freddie Bird, the school system’s mascot, for a time.
He credited his Midwest upbringing with helping him to cope with fame. “Growing up in the Midwest, people don’t drive Porsches and Ferraris and Maseratis,” he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2006. “People drive Ford and Chevy and Dodge. A lot of times people forget what makes sense to them and what got them where they were, and they want to have all this new stuff. And I think they go a little astray there.”
After graduating from high school, Mr. Perry went first to Los Angeles and then to New York.
“It was never about escape,” he said. “It was about wanting to feel like I belonged. I felt like I belonged on a screen.”
In New York he worked on “Another World” as well as another soap, “Loving,” then tried Los Angeles again, with little result at first. He was earning money laying asphalt when the “90210” role came along.
Mr. Perry, whose looks were often compared to James Dean’s, did most of his work in television and films, but he occasionally tried the stage. He made his only Broadway appearance, as a fill-in in “The Rocky Horror Show,” in 2001. He played the character Brad Majors for a few weeks, which required that he be fitted with a corset.
“You ever worn one of those damn things?,” he said in an interview with People magazine. “Well, it ain’t too comfortable.”
He also starred opposite Alyson Hannigan in a 2004 stage version of the film “When Harry Met Sally” in London.
Mr. Perry married Minnie Rachel Sharp in 1993; the marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by two children, Jack and Sophie; his mother, Ann Bennett; a brother, Tom; and a sister, Amy Coder.
“Funny, committed, and always gracious,” the writer and director Joss Whedon, who worked with him on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” film, said on Twitter. “He shouldn’t be gone.”
[Share your fondest memories of watching Luke Perry and your favorite 90210 episodes in the comments section below.]
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