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Ian Ziering recalls initially thinking he could help Luke Perry recover from his stroke

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Ian Ziering is opening up about the 2019 death of Luke Perry.

In a Thursday interview on the podcast Hustling with Vivica A. Fox, he spoke about being on a flight with his phone off when news broke that his Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star and friend suffered a massive stroke, getting the shock of his life when the plane touched down. He also talked about Perry having an advance directive, spelling out his decisions about end-of-life care, including being buried in an eco-friendly mushroom suit.

“I was on a plane heading to Wilmington, North Carolina, when he had a stroke,” Ziering recalled. “When the plane touched down and my phone came to life, it blew up. I was like: ‘What the heck is going on?’

Luke Perry & Ian Ziering at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Ian Ziering talks about the death of Luke Perry in 2019 — finding out about his stroke at the airport and attending his funeral in Tennessee. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

It was then, while “walking off the jet bridge,” that he learned his pal had a massive stroke, and by the time he was inside the airport, “people who I don’t even known were coming up to me: ‘Hey, I just heard about Luke.’ It was so surreal... I was behind the curve... Everyone had already known... It was like being hammered. I went over to where there was a Chick-fil-A and I just had to catch my breath.”

Ziering tried reaching out to the Riverdale star, but, “I wasn’t able to talk to him — obviously. I wasn’t able to get in touch with the family. Then four days later he was gone.”

He said over those four days, “not knowing how bad it was, I’m thinking, ‘Well, you know what, we’ll deal. I’ll work with him. I’ll get him back on his feet.’ He wasn’t dead in my mind. People can live after a stroke.”

He admitting thinking, “it was an overcomable obstacle — and Luke never let an obstacle be a roadblock. He always showed how quickly he could get around it, and I admired that.”

Ziering said he “came to find out it was lights out” for Perry, 52, “when he had that stroke. [It] was a massive stroke and he was being kept alive” by life support.

He also revealed Perry “had an advance directive” — after a “colorectal scare a couple years earlier” — and “that guy put all his ducks in a row in the event that he would pass. His advance directive was very clear that he did not want to be supported on life support.”

Ziering talked about Perry’s family rallying around him over his final days, with his fiancée, Wendy Madison Bauer, and ex-wife, Minnie Sharp, working together with his two children, Jack and Sophie Perry. (Sophie quickly flew home to L.A. from a charity trip in Africa to say goodbye.)

“His kids are so loving. Madison, his fiancée, his ex-wife — they all got along,” Ziering shared. “They made it work. In the midst of life where there’s ups and downs, they were able to come together — [even] before he had passed away — and be friendly.”

Ziering also spoke about attending Perry’s funeral in Tennessee, where the star owned a farm in rural Vanleer — and how he was buried in a eco-friendly mushroom suit.

“A couple years earlier, after his colorectal scare, [Perry] called me and says, ‘Z... I got three words for you: mushroom burial suit,’” said Ziering, who recalled laughing at his friend as he excitedly talked about a company, Coeio, he learned about through a Ted Talk which sold biodegradable, earth-friendly suits for burial. Perry said he was going to invest in the business.

Luke Perry & Ian Ziering at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Luke Perry and Ian Ziering at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

“He’s like: I’m doing it! I’m doing it!’ I’m like: ‘Alright, well, I hope that works out for you.’ It was in one ear and out the next,” Ziering said. That conversation escaped his mind until he was at Perry’s funeral in Tennessee.

“When his family brought him out of the hearse, he was in that suit,” Ziering said. “There was a cowl over his head, there was a suit that covered him and buttoned down the side, booties and gloves. His hands were placed over his body. He was in the mushroom suit.”

Talking about how difficult the service was, he said, “Oh my god — it was like water was just falling from everyone’s faces. To bury a friend, but ... he had such strong convictions in life. Luke was so passionate about so many things in life. He was an environmentalist. He was a farmer. I had to kind of snicker through my tears: Son of a gun, he buried himself in that mushroom suit.”

Ziering described it as “kind of a beautiful way to go,” especially that it was carried out exactly how Perry wanted.

Perry was hospitalized on February 28, 2019 after paramedics were called to the his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. — and he died on March 4.

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