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The Legacy of Luke Perry: Round Table

Luke Perry, Beverly Hills, 90210 heartthrob and Riverdale star passed away this morning after suffering a stroke last Wednesday. He was 52.

A shining star on our screen, the young kid from small-town Ohio started his career on Loving and Another World before breaking into stardom as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. For ten years he was everyone’s favorite bad boy with a heart of gold. He played a bull rider in 8 Seconds, a teenager who killed vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a devoted dad in Riverdale.

I remember Perry being on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1992 with the headline Is Luke A Fluke? He said, “It was never about escape. I felt like I belonged on a screen.. I always felt like I was one of them and in a matter of time I’d get there.”

You got there, Mr. Perry. Now there will always be a void where you should be.

Riverdale — Image Number: RVD_Fred_GRAY_097rb.jpg — Pictured: Luke Perry as Fred Andrews — Photo: Marc Hom/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

What were your feelings when you found out Luke passed away?

Heather: Immediate shock. I felt like someone had just thrown cold water in to my face. I’ve, of course, seen the news over the last few days but Luke always had this youthful, healthy, vivacious energy about him. I thought for sure he’d bounce back and with some time, be back to normal. The fact that he passed hurts me in my heart and I have this horrible feeling in my stomach. If I feel like this never having met the man and only being a fan on the fringes, his friends and family must be in such an awful place and I wish them nothing but healing, love, and light.

Lacey: I cried. Right there in the middle of work. I just cried. I had read last week about him having a stroke, of course, but I really thought he was going to be ok. I work in the medical world so I knew what the odds were of him being perfect Luke again but I was blind to it because he was Luke Perry and bad things couldn’t happen to him. My heart is truly broken for his co stars, both past and present, his loved ones and his children.

Jenna: I was in complete shock. I think I kept saying “no way” over and over again. I still can’t quite believe it. We all knew he was in the hospital, but the whole “no news is good news” really had me thinking he was going to be alright. My first tweet was “2019 needs to go” and I stand by that. If this is only the beginning of the year, what is next? My heart just really hurts for all of those people who loved him and his children.

What is your favorite Dylan moment from Beverly Hills, 90210?

Heather: When after Kelly was assaulted he basically told it wasn’t her fault, men aren’t animals, and everybody has a choice over their own actions. He told her that “a guy always has a choice of not making her do something she doesn’t want to do.” Dylan was the ultimate bad boy with a heart of gold character and that message was as important then as it is now.

Lacey: I have so many favorite Dylan moments because he was my favorite character on 90210 but the one that stood out in my mind when I read this question was when Brenda was robbed while studying at The Peach Pit. That episode really showcases what a loving and supportive boyfriend bad boy Dylan McKay was capable of being.

Jenna: My favorite moment is probably the first time we see Dylan. He helps a freshman not be bullied and begins his friendship with Brandon. It cements that from the beginning he is a bad boy with a good heart who tries to do the right thing.

Brenda or Kelly?

Heather: Neither. Me, obviously. Just kidding. Brenda, it always should have been Brenda.

Lacey: Brenda! Always!!! I hated that he ever even looked at Kelly because I am a Brenda and Dylan fangirl from the very beginning.

Jenna: Neither, to be honest! They both had their charms, but I really enjoyed him with his wife Toni Marchette. I know they were never going to be endgame, but there was something really sweet about their relationship and her death scene still makes me cry to this day.

Are you surprised about how strongly you feel about his passing?

Heather: I am. Like I said before, I’m more of a fringe fan. I loved 90210 when I was younger, I binge Riverdale when it hits Netflix, and the 80s cheese fest Buffy is one of my favorite movies of all time and can do no wrong. I haven’t actively tracked Luke Perry or his career, I’ve been more aware of him on the periphery. The fact that I’m so devastated just goes to show how much of an impact on people that he actually had, even without their knowledge.

Lacey: I am surprised about my reaction because it hit me so powerfully. I have always loved him but it’s been years since I have watched 90210. I haven’t watched Riverdale since season 1. I haven’t actually seen him act in anything in years but my love for him was always there and reading the news that he had passed away just devastated me. It felt like getting the news that a close friend or family member had died.

Jenna: I really am. Maybe because we all thought he would be okay. Maybe because Luke Perry has always been in my life in one way or another. The only other death I can think of that hit me this way was Heath Ledger. Another soul who’s shocking death left me bereft. I guess I just never thought Dylan McKay would die.

Final thoughts on Luke Perry’s legacy?

Heather: You see the outpouring of love from friends and family and you can just tell what an amazing man he was. He’ll always be Dylan McKay and that’s wonderful but I also hope he continues being remembered by being a genuinely kind, generous, humble human who wanted to look back on his life and have done something with it. I hope his legacy isn’t a character he played but the character that he had.

Lacey: I am blown away by the outpouring of love that people have shown for him. People I didn’t even know knew him. There is so much love for him and it makes my heart happy that he was so loved. I am pleased that his family will have so many heartfelt messages to read about the man that they loved. He was a kind, humble amazing man with a talent that didn’t get showcased nearly as much as it should have. He will be forever remembered as Dylan McKay, the first guy I ever crushed on.

Jenna: So many people have given their love and respect for Luke. It’s not easy to get that many celebrities to agree about one thing. They all say he was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. For better or for worse, his greatest legacy will always be 90210 and he will always be the James Dean of the 1990’s. I just know he will always be the first bad boy my 8 year old heart loved.

About the author

Heather Mason

Heather Mason joined the TV Source Magazine team in December 2017 with plans to cover The CW's 100.

About the author

Jenna Kaylor

About the author

Jen Petrovich

Jen Petrovich is an unabashed fangirl of all things angsty, romantic, and ass-kickery on television. Her taste varies wildly from campy soaps to heart-wrenching dramas, hilarious comedies to kick ass superhero shows, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sarcastic and known to sob hysterically while TV, Jen’s favorite thing to do is watch her shows and then tweet the hell out of them.