It is with heavy hearts that we found out about the passing of Luke Perry. It’s safe to say that he was adored by millions of loyal fans, and many were familiar with at least one of his diverse characters. Here are 43 memorable facts about his career, life, and legacy.
1. Where the Story Starts
Luke Perry was born on October 11, 1966 in Mansfield, Ohio. His full name was actually Coy Luther Perry III.
2. Bring on the Drama!
His first appearance in a television series was in the soap opera Loving. While this appearance was limited to just one episode, he went on to appear in 10 episodes of another soap opera titled Another World.
3. In Good Company
Speaking of Another World, Perry wasn’t the only famous actor to get their start in a bit-part on that soap opera. Other such actors included Kelsey Grammer, Henry Winkler, and even Brad Pitt.
4. Pop’s Career
His father, Coy Luther Perry Jr., made a living as a steelworker.
5. A Better Actor Than We Realized
Despite his fame for being such a brooding loner teen on television, Perry was actually voted “Biggest Flirt” by his high school classmates.
6. Half-Brother to a Fictional Character
Fans of The Simpsons will remember that the actor made a memorable cameo on the show in 1993. During his cameo, it was revealed that he is actually related to Krusty the Clown; he’s Krusty’s half-brother.
7. You Don’t Say
During Perry’s time at Fredericktown High School, you might imagine he was that smouldering rebel who almost gets chosen to be prom king—but the truth is even better. He was actually the school mascot, known as “Freddie Bird.”
8. Another Hit Show! Wait, What? Why Not?
One of the more well-known films Perry co-starred in was as Pike in the Joss Whedon project Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly, when the film became a TV series, he never reprised his role. Feel free to ask Whedon why Perry was never brought back. But, as you’ll see later, the Buffy film set was full of stranger stories.
9. Band of Brothers and Sisters
In case you wondered whether his work on 90210 was just a paycheck for him, Perry remained friends with many people from the cast and crew of that show, even long after his time on the series was over.
10. Not Funny Anymore…
According to Perry himself, he was fond of pulling pranks. At one point when he was in school, he tried getting some of his friends out of detention by confronting the school secretary. He did so while wearing a ski mask and flashing a fake gun. We can only hope that the secretary took the prank in stride, even if it hasn’t necessarily aged well…
11. Quarter-Life Crisis?
Despite playing a high school student on 90210, Perry was 23 years old at the time the show started filming. This is, of course, hardly unique when it comes to teenage characters on TV. In fact, he wasn’t even the oldest “teenager” in the show. Ian Ziering, who played Steve Sanders, was 26, while Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea) was 29 at the start of the series.
12. What About the Rest of the Door?
Before his acting career really kicked off, Perry worked the usual variety of jobs that all struggling actors are familiar with. One of the more interesting jobs he had was working in a doorknob factory. But he would suffer worse indignities as an actor (more on that below)…
13. I’ll Act Where She’s Acting
If you ever hear anyone dismiss Perry as just a TV or film actor, you can prove them wrong by pointing out that he did stage work in the West End in 2004. Starring alongside Alyson Hannigan, Perry participated in a stage production of When Harry Met Sally. We can only hope that Billy Crystal or Meg Ryan took the time to watch a performance for a true meta moment.
14. Hey! I Have Several Causes!
Many fans of Beverly Hills, 90210 compared Perry’s demeanor and performance in the TV series to James Dean, the doomed young actor who was famous for playing rebels on film. However, while the comparison was intended to be complimentary, Perry reportedly wasn’t a fan of being likened to Dean.
15. My Springsteen Phase
While he was filming his role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Perry wore a fake soul patch on his face. The producers of the film were staunchly opposed to this look (which we can understand), but he refused to alter it, insisting that he could pull it off (which we can also understand).
16. The Dog Was Too Busy Eating My Homework
Perry’s stubbornness about the soul patch in Buffy led to a moment of accidental hilarity. One day during the production, he and his co-star Kristy Swanson were having lunch when he took off the fake soul patch while eating. Much to everyone’s surprise, Swanson’s pet cat ate Perry’s prop.
17. He Definitely Cemented That Role
Just before he was cast in 90210, Perry was working in the construction industry. To be more specific, he was involved with filling parking lots with asphalt. We’d have loved to see him tell his co-workers the good news.
18. Rivals in Movie Love
Perry and actor Lochlyn Munro both starred in the series Riverdale, where Perry made a comeback turn as Archie’s father Fred Andrews. One thing both Perry and Munro had in common beyond that is that they both previously acted as love interests to actress Shannen Doherty. We can only assume that they constantly debated which of them she liked more.
19. What a Special Day
In a heartwarming coincidence, Perry’s debut episode on 90210 was first aired on the 11th of October, 1990, which happened to be his 24th birthday.
20. Those Rascally Mice
In the mid-1990s, Perry expanded his resume with voicework for kids’ shows. One of the first of these roles was Napoleon Brie in Biker Mice from Mars. In contrast to the role that made him famous, Brie is a short and comically villainous character with an Elmer Fudd-like accent. We can only imagine how much fun the actor must have had voicing him.
21. He’s Got the Range
After his role as a villain on Biker Mice from Mars, Perry voiced a more heroic character in 1996. Alongside Ron Perlman and Cree Summer, Perry starred in the short-lived series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm. Perry voiced the character Sub-Zero, but the show never went beyond one season.
Fans of Perry might have noticed a scar on his right eyebrow. Perry once explained that he got it after running into a pop machine when he was a kid.
23. Who’s Angry Now?
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, various TV shows were produced in the 1990s to adapt the stories of Marvel superheroes, including the Incredible Hulk. In 1996, The Incredible Hulk premiered as an animated series. Perry voiced recurring Hulk character Rick Jones.
24. I Could Have Bought a Convertible…
While he filmed the third season of 90210, Perry made his first-ever new car purchase: a F-350 Ford pickup truck. Whether you like or dislike Perry’s taste in cars, Perry himself would later describe that incident as the first time in his life when he “pissed away” money.
25. Nice Try
Even when the first season of 90210 was completed, Perry was anxious not to be typecast as just another teen heartthrob. As a result, he accepted a role in the R-rated indie film Terminal Bliss. Perry played the spoiled son of wealthy parents indulging in all sorts of excessive behavior. Unfortunately for him, the film failed to make a dent at the box office and was left by the wayside of his career.
26. …As Himself
The second season of Family Guy featured an episode where Peter Griffin claims that Perry is gay, which causes him to sue for libel. In case you were wondering whether Perry had a sense of humor, rest assured that he voiced himself in the episode, which serves as both a mockery and a tribute to him and his career.
27. Family Man
On the 20th of November 1993, Perry married Rachel Sharp. The couple would remain married for 10 years before separating. Together they had a son (Jack) and a daughter (Sophie). Later, Sophie had heartbreaking things to say about her father’s tragic death.
28. Where in the World Is Luke?
Fans of Beverly Hills, 90210 will remember that Dylan disappeared from the show in the sixth season. This was because Perry wanted to move on from the show to try out for different roles. Fans will also remember, however, that Perry eventually returned to the show for the ninth season.
29. What Are the Odds?
Interestingly, Perry acted alongside two different actresses who played Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation series. He worked with Dana Barron in Beverly Hills, 90210 and with Marisol Nichols in Riverdale.
30. Do Re Mi
Besides film and television, Perry was also in two music videos. One of his first appearances onscreen was the video made for the Twisted Sister song “Be Chrool to Your Scuel.” Years later, Perry teamed up with The Killers in the music video for their song “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!”
31. If at First You Don’t Succeed…
According to Perry, he underwent more than 250 auditions before he got his first acting role.
32. The “Hot Gay Nerd”
In yet another departure from his most famous character, Perry appeared in a 2005 episode of the hit TV series Will & Grace. In it, Perry plays an eccentric yet handsome man with a passion for birdwatching who is initially mistaken by Jack and Karen for a Peeping Tom.
In 1994, John G. Avildsen directed the film 8 Seconds, a biopic about Lane Frost, a bull rider who has gone down in history as a legend of American rodeos. Perry not only starred as the protagonist of the film, he also performed many of his own stunts after learning how to ride a bull.
34. Made for TV
In 2008, Perry starred in the Hallmark western A Gunfighter’s Pledge. Thanks to a rigorous and bizarre marketing campaign, which involved people dressed as cowboys staging showdowns, A Gunfighter’s Pledge had a highly successful premiere.
35. My Days With HBO
People tend to forget that Perry actually had a supporting role in the groundbreaking and truly graphic prison series Oz. Perry portrayed Jeremiah Cloutier, a preacher who is imprisoned for embezzlement. Cloutier is one of the few people on the show who doesn’t commit a single act of violence.
36. What a Coincidence
Speaking of Oz, Perry spent the early 2000s acting in two different television series as a character named Jeremiah. One was Oz, of course, and the other was a short-lived show titled Jeremiah, with Perry as the titular character. It was a post-apocalyptic series that was cut short due to creative differences.
37. Hey Guys, it’s Luke Perry!
Fans of Community will be familiar with “Inspector Spacetime,” a fictional British television series (and an obvious parody of Doctor Who) watched enthusiastically by Troy and Abed. In one episode, the villainous Pierce Hawthorne helps develop an American adaptation of the show, ruining it for Abed. Perry makes a small but hilarious cameo as the American version of the Inspector.
38. Why Not Steve?
Although Perry was famous for his role as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210, it wasn’t the role he initially auditioned for. He was hoping to win the role of Steve Sanders, the lighthearted rich kid. It’s safe to say that the producers were right to cast him as Dylan instead—but as you’ll see, the whole story of his casting is even more complicated.
It’s safe to say that Perry developed a huge fan following with the success of Beverly Hills, 90210. In fact, his fans developed a bit of a craze for him, to the point where a minor riot erupted when he made an appearance at a mall in Denver, Colorado. Excited fans broke mannequins and glass, and Perry had to be smuggled out of the mall by ducking into a clothes bin, covering himself with clothes, and allowing employees to trundle him outside.
40. Don’t Mention It
Perry-fan mania was parodied in an episode of the cartoon Johnny Bravo. Voicing himself, Perry is rescued from his rabid fanbase by Johnny, which leads Perry to give Johnny some advice on how to date.
41. Out With a Bang
Perry is set to appear in the 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film also stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Margot Robbie, and Dakota Fanning. Sadly, it was destined to be his last film.
42. No Bit Part for Me!
Astonishingly, the role of Dylan on Beverly Hills, 90210 was only meant to feature in two episodes at most. The network executives were unimpressed with the character, as well as Perry’s acting abilities. Producer Aaron Spelling was so determined to have Perry in the show, however, that he personally paid Perry’s salary so he could stay on. Eventually, the studio relented when Perry’s Dylan won over a good chunk of North American audiences.
43. Farewell, Luke
After Perry’s death on March 4, 2019 from complications of a stroke, there was an outpouring of love for the actor. His 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty wrote that hearing the news was a “phone call that devastated me,” and his daughter Sophie acknowledged that she was reeling from the loss, but grateful she had made it back from a trip to Malawi “just in time” before her father passed away. Rest in peace, Luke.
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