Luke Perry, whose portrayal of bad boy Dylan McKay in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ made him a Generation X icon, died Monday after suffering a stroke, prompting mourning and fond remembrances from fans of the teen soap opera, a touchstone of ‘90s pop culture. But his death at the age of 52 will also touch fans of another teen soap, the CW drama ‘Riverdale’.
In a sly bit of casting, Perry played Fred Andrews, father of protagonist and heartthrob Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), in the series, which puts a dark spin on the ‘Archie’ comics.
‘Riverdale’s’ mix of milkshakes, murder and illicit drugs in small-town America has been likened to ‘Twin Peaks’ meets ‘Gossip Girl’.
In a statement, the ‘Riverdale’ team -- the CW, Warner Bros. television and executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jon Goldwater -- mourned Perry:
“We are deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Luke Perry. A beloved member of the ‘Riverdale,’ Warner Bros. and CW family, Luke was everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart, and a true friend to all. A father figure and mentor to the show’s young cast, Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness. Our thoughts are with Luke’s family during this most difficult time.”
It remains to be seen how the series, which is currently airing its third season and has been renewed for a fourth, will deal with Perry’s death. His character, Fred, a single father who runs a construction company, was shot in the first-season finale and is an integral part of the drama, set in the fictional town of Riverdale. Molly Ringwald, another former teen star, played Fred’s estranged wife.
In a rarity for a broadcast drama in 2019, ‘Riverdale’ is popular with young viewers, and appears to have gotten a ratings boost from Netflix, where previous seasons are available to stream days after their linear broadcast concludes.
Perry suffered a stroke on Wednesday, the day after Fox announced a six-episode quasi-reboot of the original ‘90210’ in which the original cast members will play versions of themselves trying to revive the original series. Perry was not involved in the project, which is not expected to go into production for several months.
The original ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ helped the upstart Fox network establish itself as a favorite of younger viewers who flocked to its edgier programming.
Said the network in a statement, “Luke will always be part of the Fox family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones during this extremely difficult time. He will be deeply missed.”