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Luke Perry Went From Brooding Rebel To Iconic Dad, On And Off-Screen

The "Riverdale" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" actor died Monday at age 52.

Depending on when you were born, you might think of Luke Perry as the ultimate bad-boy heartthrob, or the ultimate good-guy dad.

And Perry, who rose to fame playing brooding Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills, 90210" in the early 1990s, and more recently played the role of Fred Andrews on the teen drama, "Riverdale," was both.

"Luke was everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart, and a true friend to all," "Riverdale" execs told TMZ Monday.

"A father figure and mentor to the show's young cast, Luke was incredibly generous, and he infused the set with love and kindness. Our thoughts are with Luke's family during this most difficult time."

The actor died Monday after suffering a stroke in his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home last week, his publicist confirmed. He was 52. Perry's son Jack, daughter Sophie, fiancee Wendy Madison Bauer and his former wife, Minnie Sharp, were at his side, the Associated Press reports.

WATCH: How Luke Perry went from teen heartthrob to the most likeable dad on TV.

Perry was born and raised in rural Fredericktown, Ohio. He gained fame on "Beverly Hills, 90210,'' which ran from 1990 to 2000. Playing motorcycle-driving Dylan McKay, he immediately cemented himself in the hearts of teens everywhere, drawing comparisons to James Dean.

"It's hard and sometimes it's scary," Perry once said of the fame from the show, according to E News. "It still amazes my mother. I went home for Christmas one year and there were fans all over the front lawn, hoping to see me."

He was the show's breakout star, Rolling Stone noted, and became Generation X's teen heartthrob.

"Perry was so instantly cool and magnetic in the role that he transformed what had seemed an earnest culture clash comedy into something more addictively melodramatic and soapy. Dylan would, in time, become so much larger than life that the show didn't know what to do with him," Rolling Stone wrote.

Was it the perfect scar above his right eyebrow? His broodiness? The way he looked at co-star Shannon Doherty before grabbing her in his arms and holding her tight in a way we could only dream to be held?

Yes. Wait, was the question? We were too busy swooning.

Last week, after Perry suffered the stroke that would eventually claim his life, Doherty posted a photo the two of them on Instagram.

"My friend. Holding you tight and giving you my strength. You got this," Doherty wrote.

And now we're crying again.

A real-life nice guy and great dad

While he played a brooding character on TV, by all accounts, Perry was a real-life nice guy. He was married to Minnie Sharp from 1993 to 2003, and had two children with her. Despite their split, Perry and Sharp were dedicated to raising their children together, Heavy reports.

"Love them as much as you can and talk to them as much as you can. Make time for them," Perry told Us Weekly in 2017.

He also joked that he wouldn't want his daughter Sophie, who was 16 at the time, to date his former "Beverly Hills 90210" character Dylan McKay.

"I know that brother, I know what he's up to," Perry said.

"He's absolutely a man of character, so she could do worse. But it wouldn't be my first pick, no."

Luke Perry with son Jack and daughter Sophie at the 'Garfield: The Movie' World Premiere After-Party in Los Angeles in 2004.
Luke Perry with son Jack and daughter Sophie at the 'Garfield: The Movie' World Premiere After-Party in Los Angeles in 2004.

Perry has said he hated being referred to as a role model, and makes it clear to his kids that what they see on TV is just acting.

"I'm a guy on TV pretending to be someone else. Looking back, I tell my kids that those are actors. It's the characters that we fall in love with ... That [character or actor]isn't a role model, but this is – I am your role model," Perry told Toronto's Fan Expo in 2013, according to the TV Watercooler.

Today, Sophie is 19 and Jack is 21, and a professional wrestler! He goes by the name, "Jungle Boy Nate Coy," according to the Ring Report. Perry had been spotted at matches to cheer on Jack, Heavy reports.

Both his children were by his side when Perry died.

Online, others have chimed in about just how nice of a guy was Perry was — everything from how nice was was to bar staff, to visiting a fan in the hospital.

"This is a man who drove to Chatsworth, CA to visit one of his biggest fans in the hospital, stayed for an hour, called later to check in - with no agenda or press. He is a great person," actor and comic Santina Muha wrote on Instagram.

From heartthrob to the ultimate TV dad

In 2016, Perry joined the cast of "Riverdale," the gritty TV version of the classic Archie comics. There was a sense of torch-passing in his role as Archie's stoic and noble dad Fred Andrews, a construction worker who refused to advance his career by indulging in the corrupt business practices of the people around him.

Along with Skeet Ulrich as Jughead's dad and a guest appearance by Molly Ringwald as Fred's ex-wife and Archie's mom, the teen idols of the 80s and 90s were seen passing the baton to a new generation of young actors. There was a sportsmanship to those actors' willingness to take on those roles, and a generational bridge-building that felt rare.

Luke Perry (L) and K. J. Apa attend the Build Series to discuss 'Riverdale' at Build Studio on Oct. 8, 2018 in New York City.
Luke Perry (L) and K. J. Apa attend the Build Series to discuss 'Riverdale' at Build Studio on Oct. 8, 2018 in New York City.

Beyond just taking the role, it looked like there was a genuine camaraderie between Perry and his young costars. During a convention in spring 2017, Perry told a funny story about how his TV son, KJ Apa, came to his house to meet his real-life son Jack and fell asleep on the couch just before the meeting occurred.

"He sat down on the couch and fell asleep. I mean, just fell over, crashed out," Perry said.

A Vulture article tells the story of how Perry got the biggest audience reaction at another cast panel when he cut in on a question clearly meant for Apa. The moderator asked the 21-year-old actor what it's like to be a sex symbol, when Perry jumped in with, "Well ..." to applause and laughter.

Once a heartthrob, always a heartthrob.

The actor had been hospitalized since last Wednesday, after a 911 call summoned medical help to his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles.

"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,'' publicist Arnold Robinson said in a statement.

- With files from Maija Kappler and The Associated Press.

WATCH: Celebrities pay tribute to Luke Perry

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