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A Good Bad Boy : Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up - Margaret Wappler

A Good Bad Boy

Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up

By: Margaret Wappler

Paperback | 3 April 2024

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An artful and contemplative tribute to the late actor famed for his role as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Luke Perry was fifty-two years old when he died of a stroke in 2019. There have been other deaths of ’90s stars, but this one hit different. Gen X was reminded of their own inescapable mortality, and robbed of an exciting career resurgence for one of their most cherished icons—with recent roles in the hit series Riverdale and Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time . . . In Hollywood bringing him renewed attention and acclaim. Only upon his death, as stories poured out online about Perry’s authenticity and kindness, did it become clear how little was known about the exceedingly humble actor and how deeply he impacted popular culture.

In A Good Bad Boy, Margaret Wappler attempts to understand who Perry was and why he was unique among his Hollywood peers. To do so, she uses an inventive hybrid narrative. She speaks with dozens who knew Perry personally and professionally. They share insightful anecdotes: how he kept connected to his Ohio upbringing; nearly blew his 90210 audition; tried to shed his heartthrob image by joining the HBO prison drama Oz; and in the last year of his life, sought to set up two of his newly divorced friends. (After his death, the pair bonded in their grief and
eventually married.) Amid these original interviews and exhaustive archival research, Wappler weaves poignant vignettes of memoir in which she serves as an avatar to show how Perry shaped a generation’s views on masculinity, fandom, and the ideal of “cool.”

Timed to the fifth anniversary of Perry’s death, A Good Bad Boy is a profound and entertaining examination of what it means to be an artist and an adult.

About the Author

Margaret Wappler is the author of the novel Neon Green. She has written about the arts and pop culture for the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Elle, The Believer, The Village Voice and other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.
Industry Reviews
“A poetic exploration of the intersection between the lives of our pop culture icons and our own. Intelligent and moving, right through the book’s last lines.”
—Gabrielle Zevin, New York Times bestselling author of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

"In my 90210 era, Dylan McKay was always my favorite. Margaret Wappler has written an utterly original love letter about who Luke Perry really was."
—Amy Schumer

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