A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up (Hardcover)

A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up By Margaret Wappler Cover Image

A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry and How a Generation Grew Up (Hardcover)


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

Best known for playing loner rebel 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 90’s 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 Once Upon a Time In Hollywood bringing him renewed attention and acclaim. Only upon his death, as stories poured out online about his 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, privilege, 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.
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.
Product Details ISBN: 9781668006269
ISBN-10: 166800626X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English
“A moving tribute.” —People

“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

"The book I've been waiting for since 1990. Margaret Wappler expertly weaves her personal story into a study of the heartthrob who captivated us throughout his too-short life, making beautiful art of both."
—Maris Kreizman, author of Slaughterhouse 90210

“In her excellent book about Luke Perry, Margaret Wappler takes the onetime teen idol seriously to reflect on early objects of desire, youthful angst, and class dynamics on screen and off.”
—Molly Lambert, creator and writer of Heidiworld: The Heidi Fleiss Story and The Secret History of LA

“A Good Bad Boy is both a celebrity biography and a memoir of a generation so tied to popular culture that individual stories and famous lives cannot be extricated from one another. It’s a dishy read, a heartbreaking reflection, and a red-blooded American story of desire. Also, there’s a potbellied pig.”
—Guy Branum, author of My Life As a Goddess

“Margaret Wappler doesn’t hide her worship of her subject, but there is nothing soft and simple about her adoration. Wappler puts her own skin in the game, creating a moving, flesh-and-blood, tapestry of Fandom, beyond nostalgia, beyond the flattening tabulations of social media. And yes, the 90’s were the best.”
—Daniel Waters, screenwriter of Heathers and Batman Returns

“A moving meditation on [Luke Perry's] life and the still-unthinkable strangeness of his absence." —Allison Stewart, Washington Post

"A sensitive portrait of a kind and caring man. A gift for Perry and 90210 fans." —Kirkus Reviews

“An engaging, well-written biography of a man gone too soon.” —Kathy Sexton, Booklist