The American television industry is in shock that such an icon and a gentleman – a professional loved and respected by everyone who knew and worked with him – had passed away so soon. His family and work colleagues, from both past projects and the present day, are currently dealing with the pain for having lost so suddenly someone they love so much.
Born in October 11, 1966, in Mansfield, Ohio, Luke Perry moved to Los Angeles when he was very young, in 1984 – he was only seventeen years old – to try a career in show business. After auditioning for 256 acting jobs, without positive results, Perry decided to relocate to New York City, where he finally had better luck, acquiring roles in the shows Loving and Another World.
His persistence was nevertheless rewarded. Perry’s big break came in the end of the decade, when, in 1989, famous producer Aaron Spelling was casting young actors for his next show, Beverly Hills, 90210, that became a popular hit. Perry initially auditioned for the role of Steve Sanders, but actor Ian Ziering got the part. Eventually, though, his talent and dramatic skills impressed the casting agents, and he got the role of the restless and rebellious Dylan McKay, one of the most iconic characters within the show.
The show run for ten seasons, from 1990 to 2000, producing effectively 293 episodes. Luke Perry was a series regular until 1995, when he left the show, determined to search better acting opportunities and more challenging roles. However, he returned in 1998, and remained until the show’s cancellation, in 2000. For the remainder of the series, Perry was described in the credits of every episode as a special guest star, though he was in fact a regular. In total, he had participated in 199 episodes.
After Beverly Hills, 90210 ended its run, Perry had established a reputation and a name in the business, and easily landed acting roles in series and made-for-television films. He found difficulty however, to distance himself from Dylan McKay, that remains his most iconic role, and the one he will be probably mostly associated with. About that, Perry has said: "I'm going to be linked with him until I die, but that's actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He's mine".
Perry developed a close friendship with several of his 90210 co-stars, especially Jason Priestley, who played Brandon Walsh. Priestley, that is also a professional motor racing driver, suffered two accidents while competing in a circuit. The first in 1995, and the second, in 2002. The second accident was a serious one; Priestley suffered massive injuries, and had to be hospitalized for treatment. Luke Perry visited him regularly during this period. The two remained close friends until Perry’s death. When hearing about the sad news, Priestley published a personal eulogy in social media, lamenting the precocious passing of his beloved friend.
In total, Luke Perry had credits to his name in thirty movies, five direct-to-video films, sixteen television films and thirty five television series – upon which eight had him as part of the main cast –, in a career that lasted almost thirty seven years. Perry unfortunately enters the select hall of famous actors who died too early, like James Gandolfini, who died at 51 years old in 2013, and will always be remembered as the iconic Tony Soprano, the patriarch of a mafia family in the television hit show The Sopranos.
Luke Perry left a mark in the television industry, with unforgettable characters that will remain loved by the audiences. He may have died too soon, but his artistic legacy will stay, being widely appreciated by old and young generations of television series enthusiasts, for years to come.