Hollywood was reeling Monday morning from the news that Luke Perry had died at age 52 following a massive stroke, and soon after, the tributes started pouring in for the kindhearted Beverly Hills, 90210 alum and Riverdale star. Perry’s TV résumé also included significant roles on Oz, Jeremiah, and John from Cincinnati, as well as guest appearances on Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, Will & Grace, and Community. And at the height of 90210 fame, he also managed to get animated for a hilarious guest spot on The Simpsons.
The beloved 1993 episode “Krusty Gets Kanceled” features a parade of cameos by celebrities such as Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Midler, Hugh Hefner, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Perry voiced Krusty’s estranged half-brother (as himself) who is one of his sideshows. As part of an ill-planned stunt on Krusty’s comeback special, Sideshow Luke Perry is launched out of a cannon, smashes through the window of the building, and painfully careens through a sandpaper museum and many jars of acid at the Kwik-E-Mart (“Oh, my face! My valuable face!” he’s heard shouting) before landing with relief in on a pile of pillows in a pillow factory, which is promptly imploded by a demolition crew. Perry not only survived the blast, he attended the after-party at Moe’s Tavern.
What was that recording session with Perry like? “I do remember him being very affable and happy to be doing it,” recalls Simpsons writer-producer Mike Reiss, who was serving as co-showrunner at the time. “He was a good sport too — we shot him out of a cannon on the show, and Luke did a very funny scream.”
Casting Perry was an easy choice, given his studly star wattage and the fact that 90210 and The Simpsons shared a network: Fox. But there was something beyond Perry’s leading-young-man looks that resonated with Reiss. “He was the biggest heartthrob in America at the time, but I got to compliment him on another achievement,” he recalls. “He had just kicked butt on Celebrity Jeopardy the week before. He was second for the week to Cheech [Marin], I think. Luke seemed very grateful for the remark about his brains, not his looks. He was clearly a very bright guy.”
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