Actor Luke Perry, who rose to superstardom on the teen-oriented 1990s U.S. television drama Beverly Hills 90210 and then aged into a fatherly role on comic-based Riverdale, died on Monday at the age of 52 after suffering a “massive” stroke last week, his publicist said.
Publicist Arnold Robinson said Perry died in a Los Angeles area hospital surrounded by his family and close friends, including his former wife Minnie Sharp, his two children, and his fiance Wendy Madison Bauer.
“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. No further details will be released at this time,” Robinson said in a statement.
Perry was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday after suffering the stroke at his home, celebrity website TMZ.com reported last week. TMZ said on Monday that Perry never recovered consciousness.
Perry was taken ill the same day that Fox television announced it was reviving the Beverly Hills 90210 series with many of the original cast, including Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling. Perry was not among those announced as returning for the limited run of six new episodes this summer.
Since 2016, Perry had played Fred Andrews, father of Archie Andrews, in the television series Riverdale, a dark twist on the Archie comic books, but more than 20 years earlier the actor had been a heartthrob who adorned the cover of scores of magazines aimed at adolescent girls, thanks to Beverly Hills 90210.
Perry’s death prompted an outpouring of grief.
Riverdale producers in a statement called Perry an “incredibly caring, consummate professional.” Molly Ringwald, one of his co-stars on the show, said on Twitter, “My heart is broken.”
Beverly Hills, 90210, which aired on the Fox network, was about a group of attractive high school students living the sweet life amid Southern California affluence while dealing with teen angst, as well as a raft of more serious issues such as date rape, AIDS and teen pregnancy.
Perry was in his mid-20s when he started playing high schooler Dylan McKay, a brooding loner on a motorcycle with prominent sideburns and bad-boy tendencies. An avalanche of comparisons to the late James Dean soon followed.
Beverly Hills 90210 got off to a slow start in the ratings in 1990 but built a cult following that grew to become a cultural phenomenon with its target demographic. One of the key plot lines was Perry’s character developing a romance with Brenda, a wholesome Midwestern transplant to Beverly Hills, played by Shannen Doherty, before moving on to her best friend, Kelly, played by Garth.
Along the way Perry, Doherty, Garth and co-stars Priestley, Spelling and Ian Ziering became stars.
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