It has been seven months since beloved actor Luke Perry’s sudden death at 52, due to a stroke. On Wednesday, his show Riverdale, on which Perry played Fred Andrews, aired a special tribute episode – ‘In Memoriam’ which paid homage to both the actor and the character, who also tragically died at the beginning of the hour.
Before Perry even stepped foot in Riverdale, however, he was adored by another generation of fans in the classic series Beverly Hills 90210 as the heartthrob bad boy Dylan McKay for ten years, on and off.
With this in mind, the Riverdale episode had a very special guest star in the form of Shannen Doherty, Perry’s co-star on Beverly Hills 90210, who starred as his love interest Brenda Walsh. I will not spoil what exact role Doherty played in the tribute, in case you are not caught up, but her scenes are very moving.
Riverdale also reflected how deeply the character of Fred’s loss would be felt in his beloved town. Those in mourning range from Hiram and Hermione Lodge, to Pop Tate. As well as KJ Apa and Molly Ringwald, Perry’s on-screen family, Cole Sprouse, Camila Mendes, Lili Reinhart and Skeet Ulrich also delivered particularly heartbreaking performances in reaction to Fred’s death.
And that’s just it – “performances”. The fact that most, if not all of the sadness, anger and confusion displayed here is in fact real makes the whole thing far sadder than a character dying, but the actor still being alive in real life. The emotion was palpable. I could feel it and was deeply affected and moved.
Before, during and after the episode, multiple actors and personnel associated with Perry paid their final respects to the late stars. This includes, but is not limited to; Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper), Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge), Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl Blossom), Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), Madchen Amick (Alice Cooper), Casey Cott (Kevin Keller), Mark Consuelos (Hiram Lodge) and Skeet Ulrich, (FP Jones), Perry’s on-screen childhood best friend.
Overall, the whole episode had me feeling very emotional — not usual with television shows, but as I have said, having knowledge of the real life tragedy amplified all the bubbling emotions. Fred Andrews was a wonderful character and by all accounts, Perry was a great man and very similar to his role.
May he Rest in Peace.