LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Actor Luke Perry, who rose to fame as a heartthrob in the hit 1990s television series Beverly Hills, 90210, died on Monday (March 4) at the age of 52 after suffering a massive stroke, his agent said.
Perry, who was hospitalised in the Los Angeles area last week, died surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, his fiancee, former wife, his parents, siblings and other close family and friends, his agent Arnold Robinson told AFP.
“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,” Robinson added, in a statement.
Perry had been in Los Angeles working on the television series Riverdale, an adaptation of the Archie comic books in which he plays Archie’s father Fred Andrews, when he suffered the stroke last Wednesday.
He was hospitalised the same day Fox announced it was rebooting 90210, featuring six of the original stars including Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling – though there was no confirmation Perry, who played Dylan McKay on the long-running show, would be part of the reboot.
News of Perry’s hospitalisation had triggered an outpouring of support from celebrities including his former co-stars on the long-running teen drama.
“My friend. Holding you tight and giving you my strength. You got this,” Shannen Doherty, who played Brenda Walsh in the series that ran from 1990 to 2000, said on Instagram.
In her post, Doherty shared an old cast photo of the two actors locked in an embrace – their characters were one of the show’s supercouples.
Grief and condolence
As news of his death broke on Monday, those messages of support turned into cries of grief and condolence.
“My heart is broken, I will miss you so much Luke Perry,” tweeted Molly Ringwald, the star of the 1980s movies The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, who also appeared in Riverdale with Perry.
Ian Ziering, a fellow cast member of Beverly Hills, said “Dearest Luke, I will forever bask in the loving memories we’ve created over the last thirty years.”
The producers of Riverdale said in a statement that Perry had been “a father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast, Luke was incredibly generous and he infused the set with love and kindness".
Perry, the son of a steelworker from Ohio, got his big break playing Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills in 1990, a role that made him a global household name.
The show ran for 10 series and followed the lives and romantic entanglements of a group of teenagers living in an affluent area of Los Angeles. It became a huge international hit.
Perry left the show in 1995 to look for more mature roles in movies but returned three years later. He went on to play the love interest in the original movie of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as headlining in the rodeo drama 8 Seconds and playing a smaller role in Luc Besson’s sci-fi film The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis.
He also appeared in the hit sitcoms Will & Grace and Spin City, as well as doing voice-overs in a number of animated series, including an appearance as himself in the hugely successful show The Simpsons.
He married Rachel Sharp in 1993 and the couple had two children before separating a decade later. His son Jack is a professional wrestler who fights under the ring name Jungle Boy.