Luke Perry, the actor who skyrocketed to fame in the hit 1990s TV series Beverly Hills, 90210, has died after suffering a massive stroke last week. He was 52.
Perry had been sedated in the hospital since last week, according to the entertainment website TMZ.
“The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning,” said his publicist, Arnold Robinson, in a statement.
No further details were released at this time. Perry was rushed to the hospital on February 27 after an emergency 911 call from his home in Los Angeles. Doctors had sedated Perry in an effort to minimize brain damage from stroke-related trauma.
Perry became a popular teenage heartthrob playing the rebel Dylan McKay in 90210. Recently, he portrayed construction-company owner Fred Andrews, father of the lead character, Archie Andrews, in the CW series Riverdale. The actor appeared in several television shows and films, including the HBO series Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Will & Grace, and the movie The Fifth Element. Perry’s final role on screen will be in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, opening in theaters on July 26.
Stroke at a Young Age — Less Frequent but Not Unheard Of
Although nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, stroke rates among younger adults have been increasing in the past few years, according to Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist with Baylor Scott & White Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas. A 2017 study in JAMA Neurology found that stroke hospitalization rates rose about 41 percent among men and 30 percent among women ages 35 to 44 years between 2003 and 2012.
“We are definitely seeing more strokes in younger people than before,” says Dr. Samaan. “Not to say that this is the cause of Perry’s stroke, but risk factors include hypertension and drug use. Other possibilities include cerebral aneurysm, blood clot possibly due to a hole in the the heart, and atrial fibrillation, which can be related to sleep apnea in a younger person.”
Although 70 percent of strokes occur after the age of 65, the risk begins to increase significantly at age 45, with the incidence of stroke doubling each decade, according to a report by the American Heart Association.
The symptoms of a stroke typically remain the same no matter what the age of the person, says Larry Goldstein, MD, professor and chairman in the neurology department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Stroke symptoms can be remembered with the acronym FAST:
F for Face Is there facial weakness or the drooping of one side of the face?
A for Arms Does the person have arm weakness?
S for Speech Is there a problem speaking or are words strange or slurred?
T for Time If any of the symptoms are present, call 911 right away.
Perry Will Be Remembered for His Life on Camera
Luke Perry was born as Coy Luther Perry III in Mansfield, Ohio, on October 11, 1966. After his parents divorced in 1972, he was raised by his mother and stepfather in Fredericktown, Ohio. His biological father died of a heart attack in 1980.
In 1984, Perry graduated from high school, where he was voted “biggest flirt” by his classmates. Soon after he moved to Hollywood to try his hand at acting. He worked a series of odd jobs while he went on more than 200 auditions over the course of three years. In 1987, he got his first break when he landed a role in the daytime soap Loving. Two years later, his career-changing moment came when he auditioned for 90210. Show creator Darren Star said in Rolling Stone, “When Luke walked into the audition, it was like ‘Wow, that’s the person.’” The show became a ratings smash for the Fox network, running for 10 seasons.
“I always felt like something of an outsider,” said Perry in a quote on IMDB. “But I identified with people up on the screen. That made me feel like I wanted to be up on the screen, too. I felt like eventually I would get there.”
Molly Ringwald, who played Perry’s ex-wife on Riverdale, tweeted her affection for the late actor:
“My heart is broken. I will miss you so much, Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family.”
Castmates from 90201, which is scheduled for a revival on Fox this summer, also expressed their love on social media. Gabrielle Carteris wrote on Twitter, “Dearest Luke– I am so heart broken and at a loss for words. You my friend were a mighty soul and have left your mark. My love and prayers to the family and all who loved you. RIP”
Perry is survived by his children, Jack and Sophie (ages 21 and 18, respectively); fiancée, Wendy Madison Bauer; mother, Ann Bennett; stepfather, Steve Bennett; brother, Tom Perry; sister, Amy Coder; and other close family and friends.