Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90210 Star Luke Perry Dies at 52


Maya Kominsky, Staff Writer

Luke Perry, star of the popular ’90s show Beverly Hills, 90210 and current hit series Riverdale, passed away at 52 on Monday, March 4 after suffering a stroke on Wednesday, February 27.

Perry had been a popular icon among teens since his rise to fame in 1990. His work made him well-known among both today’s youth and their parents—first as high school heartthrob Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210 and, beginning in 2017, as Fred Andrews, father of Archie Andrews (played by KJ Apa) in the Archie comic series spin-off, the CW’s Riverdale. Perry, like his Riverdale co-star and on-screen wife, Molly Ringwald, was an actor whose work allowed him to transcend time. From her work in the ’80s as a star of several teen rom-coms, to her maternal role in the early 2000s on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, to her current guest-star appearances on Riverdale, Ringwald has maintained her household-name status over generations. Similarly, Perry’s presence on teen-centered, CW-esque shows since the ’90s has given him recognition for decades—and with it, a unique perspective on what it’s like to be a young person whom other young people idolize.

It is this perspective that allowed Perry to guide his younger Riverdale co-stars, who portray high schoolers reminiscent of Dylan McKay and his peers who are of similar age to Perry when he himself played the character. In a statement released by the executive producers of Riverdale, Perry was described as a “father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast.” In statements made about Perry, both preceding and following his passing, said cast seems to share this sentiment. KJ Apa, 21, plays Archie, the son of Perry’s character and Riverdale’s lead role, who is a rebellious heartthrob reminiscent of Perry’s Beverly Hills counterpart. Apa was only 18 years old when the pilot of the show was filmed. When a movie starring Apa came under fire for alleged mistreatment of an animal on set, Apa, 19 at the time of the scandal, discussed how Perry helped him deal with the criticism: “[Perry] said, ‘Y’know, this kind of thing happens all the time, it’s nothing to do with you.’ But I went to him and I spoke to him and he helped me.” Apa continued, saying that Perry was the “best guy to talk to” in this situation, because “he went through [similar problems] on a way bigger scale than Riverdale,” since “Beverly Hills, 90210 was massive.” Other Riverdale co-star Camila Mendes shared a heartfelt tribute to Perry posted on Instagram, describing him as “an authentic man who took pleasure in offering us his guidance and wisdom.”

It is stars like Perry whose experience enable them to not only unite generations in shared admiration and fanhood but who also help usher in the next group of up-and-coming stars into the whirlwind that is being a young celebrity in world of teenage entertainment.

The episode of Riverdale that aired following Perry’s death on Wednesday, March 6 was dedicated to the late actor, as is the rest of the current season of the show. Riverdale halted production following his death on Monday and resumed on Wednesday, with counseling available to those on set.

Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Jason Priestley shares a tribute to long-time friend Luke Perry on Instagram.
Riverdale co-star Camilla Mendes shares a heartfelt Instagram post dedicated to the late actor.