It took me a few days to be able to write this. This is is not your generic obituary, laden with a slideshows of Luke Perry’s best roles. Instead, this is a celebration of Luke Perry’s life as a humbled, lovable person and incredibly talented actor. Yes, this is an article full of feels, as my own eyes are still filled with tears.
As we all know by now, last week Luke Perry suffered a severe stroke and was put into a medically induced coma. Because he was only 52 years old we assumed he would recover, but sadly he passed away Monday morning, the 4th of March, 2019. The news of his passing was shocking, sudden, and heartbreaking.
Luke Perry as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210 was and still is every 90’s girls fantasy bad boy boyfriend. He was the first crush of millions. When his character was first introduced on the series he described himself as, ““mad, bad and dangerous to know.” In that moment, he became every young girls dream. I even broke up with Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) from My So-Called Life.
He broke a flower pot at Brenda’s (Shannon Doherty) feet during their first fight. He often sped off angrily on his motorcycle or in his 1960’s black Porsche speedster. He started dating Kelly (Jenny Garth) while Brenda was away, giving birth to the most famous teen love triangle on television. Dylan was brooding and everyone who watched 90210 wanted to save him. Somewhere along the way, he was the first boy that a lot of us fell in love with. Because of this, Luke Perry’s passing took a piece of our teenage hearts with him.
I was fairly young when the series first aired in 1990 and wasn’t allowed to watch it, but that didn’t stop me. Remember the Topps trading cards? I remember my friends and I playing 90210 during recess and everyone clamoring over my Dylan cards that I refused to trade. For all you youngings out there, we even put Teen Beat pop out posters of dreamy teen heartthrobs on our bedroom walls much to our parents dismay. Dylan was a permanent fixture on my walls, right next to Leonardo DiCaprio!
Beverly Hills 90210 is regarded as one of the first hour-long teen drama television shows. It tackled hard subjects like teen pregnancy, sexuality, divorce, abuse, toxic relationships, and for that it became revolutionary. 90210 was what every other subsequent teen drama wanted to be, but no one (not even Chuck Bass or Ryan Atwood ) could come close to the legendary Dylan McKay.
Dylan McKay was Luke Perry’s most unforgettable role, but we cant forget about his other roles as well. He was in HBO’s OZ, which I admittedly have never watched. He was part of the ensemble cast of The Florentine, a movie that was filmed in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. He starred in a post-apocalyptic thriller Jeremiah (as Jeremiah) on Showtime until they decided they no longer wanted to product television series in the sci-fi genre. He’s had many roles and guest appearances in our favorite shows like Will and Grace, Law and Order, Family Guy, Criminal Minds, and even Community. Before we get into his last role on television, we must remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie, way before Michele Gellar took over.
in 1992, just two years after we fell head over heels for Dylan, Luke Perry was cast in director Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Pike - Buffy’s leather-jacket clad, vampire-fighting bad boy love interest. Basically, this campy teen horror-comedy flick made every teen girl want to live in SoCal. Our young, vulnerable hearts fell even harder for Luke Perry - especially when he showed up at the school dance with a single stem red rose looking like this and swept Buffy (Kristy Swanson) off her feet.
Forget about Buffy’s lame TV boyfriends, like Angel (David Boreanaz) or whatever his name was - Pike was clearly her best boyfriend for reasons I can’t logically explain other than LUKE PERRY.
Back in 2016, when I heard that Luke Perry was cast in the upcoming Riverdale series based on Archie Comics, I just about screamed with joy. YES! MORE LUKE PERRY! Now in its’ third season, Luke Perry plays the role of Archie’s (KJ Apa) dad, Fred. He is the wholesome, humble, and moral father figure to the entire cast, especially Jughead (Cole Sprouse) until his own father stepped up to the plate. No matter how bizzare the storylines of Riverdale may get, Fred Andrews is always the grounding force who loves his son and always does the right thing. We were lucky enough to witness the real Luke Perry through Fred Andrews. He was and still is the beating heart of the show.
There was a moment in the second season when Fred Andrews was shot by the infamous Black Hood at Pop’s Diner. I screamed in tears at the possibility that he might die. For the rest of the season, Archie continued to beat himself up for not being able to stop the shooting. Thankfully Fred lived, because he really is one of the best characters on the show. I could spend hours praising Riverdale as a brilliant modern noir full of self-aware pop culture but that’s not what we’re here for.
As soon as news of Luke Perry’s passing spread like wildfire on Monday morning, Riverdale immediately stopped production. Showrunner Greg Berlanti released this heartfelt statement:
“We are deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Luke Perry. 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.”
For many of us, Luke Perry was the epitome of teenage heartthrob, he was our first crush. His chiseled good looks hung on our walls and in our hearts. Around the industry, he was known as being down-to-earth and a genuinely nice person that lit up whatever set he stepped on to. Let us remember him in this way. Take some time to celebrate and remember Luke Perry by diving into his many films and television series.
I don’t know about you, but I’m about to start binging Beverly Hills, 90210 with a box of tissues in hand.