Matthew Perry’s passing has prompted a reflection on the life and career of the late comedian, best known to audiences for his role as Chandler Bing on NBC’s “Friends.” Interestingly, he wasn’t the first Perry to leave a mark on Hollywood.
Born on August 19, 1969, Matthew Perry was the son of Canadian journalist Suzanne Marie Langford and actor John Bennett Perry. John Bennett Perry’s name may ring a bell for those familiar with his extensive film and television credits spanning over five decades. While he made notable appearances in films like 1976’s “Midway” and 1996’s “Independence Day,” his career was predominantly on the small screen. His early work included a role in a 1972 television movie called “Bobby Jo and the Good Time Band,” followed by brief appearances in popular TV shows like “Police Story,” “Kung Fu,” and “Little House on the Prairie.” He later led series such as 1979’s “240-Robert,” 1984’s “Paper Dolls,” and 1985’s “Falcon Crest.”
Although John Bennett Perry hasn’t worked as an actor since 2011, he remained actively involved in his son’s life. Recently, the late actor even shared a photo of himself with his father on Instagram, a touching testament to their bond.
Fans of “Friends” might recall John Bennett Perry’s appearance in Season 4, Episode 18, where he portrayed the father of Rachel’s boyfriend, Joshua. While the comedic circumstances led to amusing misunderstandings, the two Perrys didn’t actually share any scenes in this episode.
However, this wasn’t the only time the father-son duo graced screens together. They first appeared together in a 1979 episode of “240-Robert,” where the elder Perry played Deputy Theodore Roosevelt “Trap” Applegate III, leading the series. Young Matthew made his television debut at the age of 9, portraying a character named Arthur in the same episode. They collaborated again in 1993 on the third episode of “Home Free,” a short-lived sitcom, with Matthew taking on the role of a young journalist named Matt Bailey, confronting a judge played by John Bennett Perry.
In 1997, they both featured in the romantic comedy “Fools Rush In,” starring Matthew and Salma Hayek. Seven years later, they reunited on the small screen, appearing in an episode of “Scrubs.” Their final shared TV appearance occurred in the last episode of Matthew’s short-lived 2011 sitcom, “Mr. Sunshine.”
Adding to the familial Hollywood connections, Matthew Perry’s stepfather was Keith Morrison, a well-known correspondent for Dateline NBC, famous for his distinctive deep voice in narrating the long-running series. Morrison entered Perry’s life when Perry’s mother married him in 1981, when Perry was just 12 years old, a decade before his fame on “Friends.” Morrison quickly recognized Perry’s natural ability to command a room, particularly evident in his performance on the hockey team. Their relationship was evidently close, with Morrison sharing positive sentiments about Perry, even mentioning a memorable gift of a Porsche 911 from Matthew.