Whenever I saw Luke Perry in a TV or movie role, he was playing a guy who lived on the edge or managed to defy death in spite of whatever motivations his character had. From his breakout role as Dylan McKay on BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 to Fred Andrews surviving a gunshot to the stomach on the CW hit RIVERDALE, Perry took on the role of a survivor.
Unfortunately, today, he succumbed to a stroke at the way-too-young age of 52.
Perry had an impressive TV resume, popping into the collective consciousness as the rebellious teenager Dylan McKay when 90210 debuted on Fox in 1990 (Perry was 24 playing a high school kid when the show debuted, for what it’s worth). But after 10 seasons and 199 episodes in the posh area code, Perry eventually moved on to other series roles, like on JEREMIAH and the HBO series OZ.
In 2016, he started what would be his final TV role, as Archie Andrews’ dad on RIVERDALE. After an early career that was defined by playing the rebellious loner character, moving on to play the father of one of America’s most well-known good guys was a surprising casting choice. But Perry was so good in the role and watching episodes that revolved around him and Molly Ringwald (who played his ex-wife) was always a pleasure.
Probably one of my favorite Luke Perry TV moments, though, came as a host on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Phil Hartman) urging him to “use the Force.” When Perry protests that he’s not Luke Skywalker, Hartman implores, “it works with anyone named Luke.”
On TV, Perry had an impressive resume of voice work as well as live action roles. Until I looked at his IMDb page today, I hadn’t realized all the animated series he did voices for. Starting with BIKER MICE FROM MARS in 1994 (which also featured 90210 co-star Ian Ziering), Perry also provided voice work for shows like MORTAL KOMBAT: DEFENDERS OF THE REALM (as Sub-Zero), THE INCREDIBLE HULK (as Rick Jones), JOHNNY BRAVO and CLONE HIGH.
Perry also parlayed his 90210 success into a few film roles, including his first starring role as Lane Frost, the bull riding world champion, in 1994’s 8 SECONDS. But for me, his best movie role will always be his turn as Pike in the 1992 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER movie. Perry played the love interest to Kristy Swanson’s Buffy, helping her take down Lothos and his band of bloodsuckers.
His final film role is yet to be released, as he recently finished work on ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, the latest Quentin Tarantino film, about “a faded TV actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.”