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A Look Back at the Life of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star Luke Perry

Learn about America’s favorite good 'bad boy'

Coined the brooding bad boy and teen heartthrob of the 90s, Luke Perry had a similar demeanor to his Beverly Hills, 90210 character. Or at least that was the public perception of him, Luke Perry young rising to stardom after he became Dylan McKay on the Fox teen drama.

The charming actor was different than many of the other rising stars of the time. His co-stars have described him as “smart, quiet and humble,” which is exactly what fans got from his public persona.

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man smoldering; luke perry young
Luke Perry (1992)Frank Trapper / Contributor / Getty

Luke Perry was the ultimate cool guy, thanks mostly to the laid-back personality audiences saw from his character. He was on the older side of the cast while on 90210, which may be the reason he seemed more mature on screen.

Once he broke out of the teen drama world in 2000, Perry himself was thrilled to move into work that reflected something closer to his actual age. “The teenage days are gone! Coming-of-age movies are gone for me. I mean, come on, the hairline just won’t have it!”

man smiling awkwardly
Luke Perry (1992)Jeff Kravitz / Contributor / Getty

Unfortunately, the world lost Luke Perry in 2019 to a stroke, which rocked Hollywood and all of his lifelong fans. But to keep his memory alive, we take a look back at Luke Perry young and learn all about his career before, during and after 90210.

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Luke Perry Young

man in a suit smiling
Luke Perry (1993)Frank Trapper / Contributor / Getty

He was born on October 11, 1966, in Mansfield, Ohio as Coy Luther Perry III. Once he made the decision to become an actor, Perry packed up and moved out to Los Angeles, though like many young actors before and after him, there were only a few auditions that didn’t lead anywhere.

In the meantime, he would work odd jobs to support himself and did manage to score small roles in a couple of music videos, including Twisted Sister’s “Be Chrool to Your Scuel.” You can see Perry at the very beginning, sitting at a school desk and projecting his usual effortlessly cool facade.

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man smiling; luke perry young
Luke Perry (1993)Jeff Kravitz / Contributor / Getty

Perry’s first successful audition landed him a small recurring part as Ned Bates on the soap opera Loving from 1987 to 1988. At the same time, he got a role on another soap, Another World, as Kenny.

Luke Perry young becomes Dylan McKay

man holding books leaning on car
Luke Perry in ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ (1991)

In 1990, Perry booked what is considered his most successful character, cool bad boy Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. The actor, who was 23 at the time he landed the show, was playing a teenager unlike his young co-stars, but it didn’t matter to fans who were hooked from the moment they saw Dylan stride onto their screens.

The fame, however, seems not to have gone to Perry’s head. “It’s not me they’re coming out to see, it’s this character I play. I’m very flattered that it’s gone over as well as it has.” It should be noted that he was very much known for his humility and not taking things too seriously, a wonderful character trait to have as a burgeoning celebrity.

two men one girl posed together; luke perry young
Jason Priestly, Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry (1991)Vinnie Zuffante / Stringer / Getty

And Perry had his co-stars to thank for helping keep him grounded. According to the star, he and a few other 90210 stars, like Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestly, had a pact to keep each other in check. “We start slapping each other when somebody gets too big-headed. We made a promise going into this, we said, ‘Look, guys, nobody expects that we’re gonna do anything other than these 13 episodes. If by some chance… people wanna keep watching, let’s remember how we got there.’”

Luke Perry tries to move on

Perry’s initial run on 90210 was cut in the middle of the sixth season when he left Dylan McKay behind in order to find roles that were more mature than the young character he was so used to playing. Considering he was almost 30, who could blame him?

man in cowboy hat leaning on fence
Luke Perry in ‘8 Seconds’ (1993)John Storey / Contributor / Getty

The best-case scenario for me is to get back to ground zero as an actor, where people aren’t completely married to this concept of the television show, yet they haven’t seen me do anything terribly horrendous on celluloid yet, either.”

Perry took on different roles, including, 8 Seconds (1994), Normal Life (1996), American Strays (1996) and The Fifth Element (1997). But, alas, he returned to the series in season nine to reprise his role, where he remained until the 10th and final season.

He finally moves on from teenage roles

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Luke Perry in ‘Supernova’ (2005)

Following the end of 90210, Perry was riding a wave from the show’s success. He had starring roles in The Enemy (2001), The Triangle (2001), Fogbound (2002) and a new series, Jeremiah (2002-2004).

Among his film roles were Supernova (2005), Upstairs (2009), The Final Storm (2010) and Red Wing (2013). In 2017, Perry booked another long-term role on Riverdale as Fred Andrews, father to Archie Andrews. Sadly, his role was cut short when Perry himself passed suddenly at the age of 52.

luke perry young
Luke Perry (2005)Ethan Miller / Staff / Getty

Luke Perry’s career was full of success and the actor was certainly modest about all that he accomplished. No matter the part he booked over the years, Perry remained humble and up for the task.

In an interview from his early career, he explained, “I hope to be still working when I’m 30, and 40, and 50, and for however long I want to. I want to do something with my life. When my time here is up, I don’t want to look back and see that I didn’t do anything.”

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