Obituary

Luke Perry: '90210' teenage heart-throb

10 March 2019 - 00:00 By The Daily Telegraph


Luke Perry, who has died at the age of 52, became US television's leading heart-throb in the 1990s as the smouldering loner Dylan McKay in the high-school series Beverly Hills, 90210, though as an actor he struggled for years to escape the shadow of the role.
Beverly Hills, 90210, which began in October 1990, was the first soap opera aimed at teenagers. The well-heeled characters were played by actors who looked like models and the story lines mixed melodrama with "relatable" teen issues.
Perry was catapulted to stardom as the programme became essential viewing for teenagers. In 1991, 10,000 fans turned up when he made an appearance at a Florida shopping mall; he had to be whisked away to a nearby hotel after the event erupted into a mélée that left 20 injured.
The following year he and his co-stars appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone and Perry appeared solo - and shirtless - on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Part of the show's appeal was its unfussy attitude to sex; in the first season Dylan and hisgirlfriend Brenda (Shannen Doherty) became the first teenage couple on US television to enjoy a sexual relationship with no dire consequences. After complaints from parents, however, the couple suffered a pregnancy scare.
Perry's success did not bring him much fulfilment. "It doesn't say 'role model' in my contract," he said. "I looked at every page. I was hired as an actor."
Perry left the show in 1995 to develop his film career, but appeared only in small roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Fifth Element. He returned to 90210 in 1998 and remained until it ended in 2000.
In 2017 he joined the cast of Riverdale, a teen drama series based on the Archie Andrews comics. His performance as the lead character's father, Fred Andrews, was praised and this would prove to be his best TV part since 90210.
The son of a steelworker, Perry was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and grew up in rural Fredericktown. His parents divorced when he was six and he became estranged from his father, forming a strong bond with his stepfather.
Aged 17 he left for Los Angeles; he told his family they would next see him "in a box or on the box".
His marriage to Minnie Sharp was dissolved in 2003. Their son and daughter survive him.
1966-2019

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