Shannen Doherty Says Luke Perry's 'Biggest Accomplishment' Was His Children: 'They Were His Heart'
"I have so many memories with Luke that make me smile and that are forever imprinted on my heart and mind," Shannen Doherty says about Luke Perry.
“I am in shock. Heartbroken. Devastated by the loss of my friend. I have so many memories with Luke that make me smile and that are forever imprinted on my heart and mind,” Doherty, 47, exclusively tells PEOPLE about Perry, who died Monday at age 52 after suffering a massive stroke days earlier.
Doherty starred alongside Perry on Beverly Hills, 90210 for years — the actress as Brenda Walsh and Perry as Dylan McKay (he appeared from 1990-95 and again in 1998 until 2000).
Although the costars drifted apart when the show went off the air, they reconnected after Doherty went public with her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015.
“Luke was a smart, quiet, humble and complex man with a heart of gold and never-ending well of integrity and love. Luke reached out to me during my cancer journey and we picked right back up, albeit older and wiser, but that connection remained in tact,” says Doherty, who opened up about being in remission in September.
Although the duo wasn’t signed on to return for the upcoming Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot alongside their original castmates, both Doherty and Perry hoped to work together again on “something special and meaningful” for fans.
“There is a special kind of love one has for each other when you are experiencing the journey we did on 90210 and of course life in general. Luke and I were working on show ideas for us. We wanted to work with each other again and create something special and meaningful for our fans at this stage in our lives,” shares Doherty. “I will miss him everyday. Every minute. Every second.”
During their time spent together, Doherty remembers how often and fondly Perry spoke of his two children — son Jack, 21, and daughter Sophie, 18 — who he shared with ex Rachel “Minnie” Sharp.
“Luke loved his family. He raved about his kids and how proud he was of them. He showed me videos of the often,” says Doherty. “They were his heart and for him, his biggest accomplishment.”
Just weeks before his death, Doherty met up for lunch with her longtime friend and his dog, Penny, which will stand as one of her lasting memories with Perry.
“A couple of weeks ago in February, Luke and I met up for lunch. He chose the restaurant based on who would allow his dog,” says Doherty.
“I walked in and there he was, smiling, with his dog Penny and her bed under the booth, happy as can be,” she the actress. “I will never forget — and will miss — Luke looking at me with that smile of his saying … Shan.”
On Feb. 27, Perry was hospitalized after suffering a stroke and paramedics were dispatched to his home in Sherman Oaks, California. A source told PEOPLE he never regained consciousness.
The actor remained under observation for five days, but died on Monday, March 4.
“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,” continued the statement. “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.”
Following news of his death, numerous 90210 cast members expressed their condolences in statements and on social media.
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In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, Tori Spelling wrote, “I’m in utter shock and heartbroken. I’m saddened for his kids whom he adored beyond words. He was so proud of Jack and Sophie. Luke was one of the kindest and most humble human beings I’ve ever known. I’m grateful for the years of friendship we had. He truly was family to me, a protector and a brother. I’m so sorry for the loss that everyone is experiencing.”
Jennie Garth also released an exclusive statement to PEOPLE: “My heart is broken. He meant so much to so many. Such a very special person. I share my deep sadness with his family and all who loved him. Such a terrible loss.”
Ian Ziering, who was the first 90210 star to pay tribute, tweeted, “Dearest Luke, I will forever bask in the loving memories we’ve shared over the last thirty years. May your journey forward be enriched by the magnificent souls who have passed before you, just like you have done here, for those you leave behind.”
In lieu of flowers, the Perry family asks that donations be made to Fight Colorectal Cancerthis link opens in a new tab and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitalthis link opens in a new tab.