FREDERICKTOWN — Village Mayor Jerry Day said that Luke Perry fulfilled his boyhood dream.
“The thing is when he left here for California, he told everybody he was going to be a movie star. And he did that,” Day said Monday just hours after national media outlets reported on the death of the “Riverdale” and “Beverly Hills, 90210” star.
Publicist Arnold Robinson said that Perry, 52, died after suffering a massive stroke 5 days earlier.
Perry was born Coy Lucas Perry III in Mansfield and later lived in Knox County, graduating from Fredericktown High School in 1984. Classmates recalled him as being ornery and a bit of a flirt.
He didn’t forget his roots, as he was known for returning for the annual Fredericktown Tomato Show in this Knox County village. But he also kept a somewhat low profile, according to Day.
He also was Freddie Bird, the school’s mascot, during his high school days.
“Actor Luke Perry, 52, passed away today after suffering a massive stroke,” read a statement from Perry’s rep. “He was surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, fiancé Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett, brother Tom Perry, sister Amy Coder, and other close family and friends.
“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. No further details will be released at this time.”
He was tapped for heartthrob status along with Jason Priestley on “Beverly Hills 90210,” which ran from 1990 to 2000.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, released this statement:
“Luke Perry represented what makes our state great — generosity, humility and a fighting spirit. Connie and I join the Mansfield and Fredericktown communities in offering our deep sympathies to Luke’s family and friends on their loss.”
Perry, like Brown, was born in Mansfield and Brown’s father, an area doctor, delivered Perry as a baby.
Day said that when he ran for Knox County Sheriff in 2004 Perry called him and offered to do a video endorsement.
“I never forgot Luke for doing that. I’ve known him and his mom and step-dad.”
Perry has had roles in a handful of films, including “The Fifth Element,” ”8 Seconds” and “American Strays.”
He appeared in HBO’s prison drama “Oz” and voiced cartoons like “The Incredible Hulk” and “Mortal Kombat.” In recent years he starred in the series “Ties That Bind” and “Body of Proof.” Perry appeared on Broadway in 2001, in a revival of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
In interviews over the years Perry recounted living a simple country life even in California, saying he mowed his own grass and tended a garden.
“He was a good kid. We’re going to miss him,” Day said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”
Anthony Conchel is editor of The Morrow County Sentinel. He has edited nine daily newspapers in his 37-year newspaper career, most recently at a sister paper in Delaware, Ohio.