And another one bites the dust. After Keith Flint, it was Luke Perry’s turn! The actor famous for the role of Dylan McKay in the 90s TV series Beverly Hills 90210, hit by a stroke last Wednesday, died yesterday at age 52.
Perry was hospitalised at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California, after the illness that had struck him while he was in his Sherman Oaks home. He leaves his partner Wendy Madison Bauer, two sons – Jack (22) and Sophie (19), born from the marriage with the actress Rachel Sharp, married in 1993 and divorced in 2003. “Next to him there were all the family members and the most dear friends. The family thanks for the support and prayers of these days, and asks respect for privacy in this moment of great pain ” – his agent reported in a statement.
Luther Perry III, his real name, was born in Mansfield on October 11, 1966, the son of a worker and a housewife. Determined to be an actor he had moved to Los Angeles and obtained the first roles in the soap operas Destini and When you love, at the end of the eighties. First, there was a time in New York where, as told in an interview by Whoopi Goldberg in 1990, he had participated in 215 auditions before he could be cast for a commercial. But it was in California, in 1990, that the real stroke of luck arrived. This is when he was hired to play Dylan McKay in the TV series Fox Beverly Hills 90210, the role of a bad boy inspired, in the intentions of the authors, by James Dean. A boy with a tough attitude behind which hides a fragile and gentle soul. Beautiful dark, loves poetry, music, vintage films, is sensitive to feminine charm.
The character was loved by the audience, Perry becomes a star. Let’s admit it girls, many of us had quite a crush on him… even though I like Brandon better! Anyhow, he acted in almost all seasons, from 1990 to 1995. After a period of absence he returned to the cast from 1998 to 2000. The break was needed to try also for the big screen. He also worked on Christmas Holidays 95 by Neri Parenti, in which he interpreted himself. He was in the cast of The fifth element by Luc Besson (1997) and in that of Crossroads for the Hell by John McNaughton (1997).
But nothing was stronger than Beverly Hills 90210. Perry was an idol of the teenagers of the nineties. His love stories with Kelly Taylor, the snobby blonde, and the brunette Brenda Walsh are experienced as an epoch-making clash that divided the female audience into stadium fans. Especially because fiction and reality overlapped when the rumour began to circulate that Perry really had a liason with Jenny Garth, the actress who played Kelly.
Despite the great success, Perry decides not to participate in the spin off of the series, made in 2008. “I will be tied to him for the rest of my life”, he said, talking about the character, “but that’s okay… I created Dylan McKay, he’s mine”. He explained that “when you become a professional you have to take into account all the offers and I do not think this is a bad opportunity, but from a creative point of view it’s something I did in the past, I do not know how much I would benefit if I did it today”.
In 2000 he stopped being Dylan. He played in the Oz series of the Hbo, then in Jeremiah, aired from 2002 to 2004. But there were many TV series in which it participated: the teen drama Riverdale among the most recent, as is long list of films in which it took part. He worked as a voice actor too. He participated in an edition, in 2001, of The Rocky Horror Show. All roles in which he tried to escape, in vain, the identification with the character of Beverly Hills 90210, who continued to persecute him in various forms, including a cartoon version in some episodes of The Simpsons (which he also doubled) and in an episode of The Griffins.
His last, beautiful occasion had been with Quentin Tarantino. The director had hired him for a small role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his new film with a stellar cast. Some scenes with him had already been filmed. Who knows if Tarantino decides to leave them in the movie! No title would be more appropriate, Once upon a time in Hollywood, to celebrate the story of an actor imprisoned in a single character!
May he rest in peace! We salute him with Beverly Hills 90210 theme song…