It would be hard to communicate to the average Riverdale fan just how big a deal dad-figure co-star Luke Perry was in the early-’90s. What reference point would paint the most realistic picture for someone who wasn’t there, to explain a level of fandom that invoked Beatlemania more than Harry Styles fever?
Describing the seismic hormonal impact of this Vanity Fair magazine cover from 1992–during peak Beverly Hills 90210 psychosis–might sound quaint to anyone who came of age after Kim Kardashian Broke the Internet. But anyone who was indeed present and pop culture-savvy during the 90210 heyday knows that Luke Perry (and his mighty, legendary sideburns) was on top of the world back then.
Beverly Hills, 90210 was more than a template-defining teen drama, it was a global phenomenon. Fast Company editor Amy Farley recalls, “When I traveled through Europe in the mid-’90s, and then Japan in the late ’90s, people who barely spoke a lick of English had heard of my hometown of Minneapolis simply because of Brenda and Brandon Walsh.” (The Walshes, played by Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestley, were from Minneapolis before moving to the titular zip code.)
As the breakout star and designated mega-hunk of the show, Luke Perry remained humble and friendly with his fellow cast mates. Before he passed away on Monday, due to complications from a stroke, his pinned tweet on Twitter was a recent photo with 90210 costars Priestley, Jennie Garth, and Gabrielle Carteris.
— Luke Perry (@LukePerryIII) May 24, 2018
Once the news of his passing broke, tributes began pouring in from all across the entertainment landscape.
Here’s one from 90210 co-star Ian Zeiring, the first of surely many tributes to come from this group.
I will forever bask in the loving memories we've shared over the last thirty years. May your journey forward be enriched by the magnificent souls who have passed before you, just like you have done here, for those you leave behind.
— Ian Ziering (@IanZiering) March 4, 2019
Here’s Joss Whedon, who wrote the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie (in which Perry co-starred) before creating the television series.
The first time I met Luke Perry we talked about what kind of movie we wanted “Buffy” to be. I asked if he’d ever seen “Near Dark” and he gave me a look of HOW DARE YOU SIR and I knew we’d get along. Funny, committed, and always gracious. He shouldn’t be gone.
— Joss Whedon (@joss) March 4, 2019
Here are Perry’s fellow former teen idols Molly Ringwald, Mayim Bialik, and Jon Cryer. (Ringwald also played Perry’s wife on Riverdale.)
My heart is broken. I will miss you so much Luke Perry. Sending all my love to your family. ❤️ #LukePerry
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) March 4, 2019
RIP Luke Perry. ???? pic.twitter.com/g6rR5lqLUG
— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) March 4, 2019
— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) March 4, 2019
Here’s one from the Twitter account of the writers of Riverdale.
Luke Perry… you were a joyful and vibrant soul. You will be missed but most certainly your legacy will be remembered forever. Rest in love and peace, friend. #Riverdale
— Riverdale Writers Room (@RiverdaleWriter) March 4, 2019
And here are a bunch of other celebrities paying tribute to the actor.
Luke Perry was my 1st crush. Eh, more like obsession (I wore pins w his face on them to school ????) I used to dream of making it to LA just to meet him. I never got to, but I've always heard he was a really great person. ???? Praying for his family & kids…. Rest in love ❤️❤️❤️❤️????
— Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) March 4, 2019
Luke Perry – Irreplaceable beautiful and kind human being, incredible friend, generous actor and adoring father to Jack and Sophie and loving partner to Madison we are all heartbroken. You are the love and you are the light. pic.twitter.com/X3ycTvmXsb
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 4, 2019
RIP Luke Perry ???? https://t.co/UATA0mlFqV
— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) March 4, 2019
When I was lucky enough to work with Luke Perry I told him about the pillow of his face I used to sleep with and he yelled "You are such a weirdo!" at me and it was the best. Sending love to his friends and family.
— Leslie Grossman (@MissLeslieG) March 4, 2019
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) March 4, 2019
Oh my. Luke Perry. A sweet gentleman. Lovely sense of humor. My heart goes out to his family. #RIPLukePerry
— Valerie Bertinelli (@Wolfiesmom) March 4, 2019
Luke has left this world. A dear and kind man taken too soon. We are fewer,rest brother. Love and light pic.twitter.com/0u9g1tMRUY
— TitusWelliver (@welliver_titus) March 4, 2019
I remember when Dylan McKay was the coolest guy on television. #RIPLukePerry
— andy lassner (@andylassner) March 4, 2019
Rest Luke — the way you always treated me (and anyone I ever introduced you to, no matter how much they screamed and squealed with joy and excitement) — in peace. #RIPLukePerry
Cherish every moment. ???????? pic.twitter.com/Cgd9qeVKRX
— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) March 4, 2019
Luke Perry is one of the good guys in our business. He was always kind, and respectful, and happy to pass on what he had learned to young actors like me learning how to navigate the entertainment industry. #RIPLukePerry
— ERIC BALFOUR (@ERICBALFOUR) March 4, 2019
I’m heartbroken to hear Luke Perry passed away. Sending love to his family and friends. R.I.P.
— alyson hannigan (@alydenisof) March 4, 2019
RIP Luke Perry! You made your mark. ????
— Jesse Metcalfe (@jessemetcalfe) March 4, 2019
And of course, here’s a tribute to one of Perry’s more memorable roles, a cameo on The Simpsons.
— Simpsons Quotes (@SimpsonsGreats) March 4, 2019
RIP Luke Perry, you are missed.