Graduating in 1984, Luke Perry travelled to Los Angeles to start his career as an actor. He worked in construction as a paver and in other capacities which helped him to pay off the fees for the acting classes. He also spent considerable time in other cities such as Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Downey, and Paramount.
He played an uncredited role in the series ‘Voyagers’, following which he couldn’t find work on any other project until 1987, when he landed the part of Ned Bates in ABC’s soap opera ‘Loving’. A year later, he was cast in another soap opera, NBC’s ‘Another World’.
His role in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ made Perry a teenage heartthrob in the 1990s and the offers began to pour in. Besides the ensemble drama ‘Scorchers’ (1991), he appeared in his first leading role in a film in ‘Terminal Bliss’ (1992).
Later, he appeared as Oliver Pike in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, a comedy-horror based on Joss Whedon’s script. He co-starred with Kristy Swanson in the film. Whedon would later develop a darker and critically acclaimed television series of the same name.
While most of his significant works were on television, Perry, over the years, also built up an impressive filmography. He played Lane Frost in ‘8 Seconds’ (1994), Mark Pinnalore in ‘Attention Shoppers’ (2000), and Richard Steele in ‘Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise.’
He worked with Massimo Boldi in ‘Vacanze di Natale '95’ (1995), Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman in ‘The Fifth Element (1997), and Bill Paxton in ‘Red Wing’ (2013).
Luke Perry starred in the crime-drama film ‘Normal Life’ (1996), comedy-drama ‘Alice Upside Down’ (2007), and the apocalyptic thriller ‘The Final Storm’ (2010). Recently, he appeared in the 2016 release ‘Dudes & Dragons’.
He played himself in TV shows such as ‘The Simpsons’ (1993), Johnny Bravo (2000), and Family Guy (2000).
Perry had also done a substantial amount of voice-work in his career. He provided voice for Napoleon Brie in ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ (1994-95), Sub-Zero in ‘Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm’ (1996), Rick Jones in ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (1996-97), Stewart Waldinger in ‘Pepper Ann’ (1999-2000), Ponce de León in ‘Clone High’ (2003), and Fang in ‘Pound Puppies’ (2011).
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In Thomas Nelson's audio Bible production ‘The Word of Promise’ (2009), he portrayed Saint Stephen and Judas the disciple.
Coming to his stage career, in 2001, he was cast as Brad Majors in the Broadway production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. He performed opposite Alyson Hannigan in the London production of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ in 2004.
After ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’, his next important project on television was HBO’s drama ‘Oz’ (2001-02). Perry was cast as Rev. Jeremiah Cloutier, who is sent to the prison after being convicted of embezzling money from his church.
From 2002 to 2004, he played the eponymous character in the American-Canadian post-apocalyptic action-drama ‘Jeremiah’. In 2006, he portrayed the character Peter Schaefer in NBC’s sitcom ‘Windfall’.
He starred as Linc Stark, a surf talent scout and entrepreneur, in ‘John from Cincinnati’ (2007), an HBO drama about the surfing community of Imperial Beach, California. In Dana Delany’s ‘Body of Proof’ (2012-13), he acted as CDC Officer Dr. Charlie Stafford.
Perry’s contribution to the small screen is not limited just to television shows. He has acted in many television films and miniseries, including ‘Riot’ (1997), ‘Supernova’ (2005), ‘A Gunfighter's Pledge’ (2008), and ‘Love in Paradise’ (2016).
His last show ‘Riverdale’ was based on the characters in Archie Comics. He played Frederick "Fred" Andrews, the father of Archibald “Archie” Andrews (KJ Apa).
Luke Perry was best known for portraying the role of Dylan in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210.’ There are only a handful of television shows that have been as influential in their respective genres as ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ had been among teen dramas. Originally aired from 1990 to 2000, the series can very well be seen as the perfect documentation of the 1990s, and the fashion and lifestyle that were prevalent in that decade.
His character Dylan McKay was a dark, brooding son of a millionaire. He was virtually a lone wolf, who, in the course of the series, grows close to the other main characters. Perry left the show in 1995 to pursue more mature roles but returned in 1998 for financial reasons. He received a People’s Choice Award nomination and a Kids’ Choice Award nomination for his performance.
Perry declined the offer to be part of the 2008 revival, ‘90210’, primarily due to his sense of loyalty towards Aaron Spelling, one of the creators of the original series, who also wasn’t part of the revival. However, he maintained that he felt possessive of the character, stating that, "I'm going to be linked with him until I die, but that's actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He's mine."
Family & Personal Life
Luke Perry married model Rachel Minnie Sharp in 1993. She gave birth to their son Jack on June 15, 1997 and daughter Sophie on June 7, 2000. After their divorce in 2003, they agreed to share the custody of their children.
In 2015, following a colonoscopy, Perry was told that he had precancerous growths in his colon. Later he underwent surgery to remove the growths. Since then collaborated with the advocacy group Fight Colorectal Cancer and its national campaign Strong Arm Selfie to raise awareness about one of the most lethal forms of cancers and encourage others to get screened.
Luke Perry suffered a massive stroke on on February 27, 2019. at his home in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles. He died on March 4, 2019 due to complications from stroke.