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Matthew Perry’s Parents: An In-Depth Look At The Life, Family, And Lasting Legacy Of The Legendary Comic Actor

A Reflection on the Life and Family of Matthew Perry: The Influence of His Parents, His Connection with Keith Morrison, and Events Leading up to his Untimely Death.
by Rob Gillham | Nov 17 2023

Matthew Perry, adored by many for his unforgettable portrayal of Chandler Bing in the acclaimed television series “Friends”, led a fascinating life that extended beyond the borders of the beloved show. His untimely and tragic passing has led many to delve deeper into his history, with particular focus on his parents and their significant impact, casting a new light on this much-loved actor’s personal narrative.

Matthew Perry’s Early Years: Birth and Parentage

Matthew Perry was born on August 19, 1969, in the town of Williamstown, Massachusetts. His mother, Suzanne Marie Morrison (originally Langford, born 1948), a Canadian by birth, earned a name for herself in journalism and served as press secretary to Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s former Prime Minister. On the other hand, his father, John Bennett Perry (born 1941), etched his mark in show business as a distinguished American actor and former model.

Matthew Perry’s Mother: Suzanne Marie Langford

Suzanne, who parted from Matthew’s father when he was less than a year old, carved a distinguished career in communications. As a trained journalist, Suzanne served in a crucial role as press secretary to former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau before redirecting her passion towards political consulting and fundraising.

This period saw young Matthew attending the same school as Pierre’s son, the present Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau penned a heartfelt tribute to his old schoolmate following Matthew’s untimely death, tweeting, “The news of Matthew Perry’s death is both shocking and heartbreaking. The memories of the games we played in our childhood remain, as does the laughter and joy he spread to people around the world.”

In 1981, Suzanne found love again and married Canadian journalist Keith Morrison, expanding their family. Together, they brought four children into the world: Caitlin (born in 1981), Emily (born in 1985), Willy (born in 1987), and Madeleine (born in 1989). Morrison had also another son, Michael (born in 1974), from a past marriage. In addition to that, he played the role of a stepfather to Matthew.

Like Father Like Son Matthew Perry’s Actor Dad: John Bennett Perry

John Bennett Perry, Matthew’s father, strode through Hollywood as a reputable actor and model. Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1941, to Alton L. Perry, a businessman, bank director, and civic leader, and Maria Bennett. He studied at St. Lawrence University and was a part of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

In his acting career, Perry featured in 1967 musical ‘Now Is the Time for All Good Men‘ and had a small role in the 1972 film ‘Cabaret’. Additionally, Perry is well-known for his role as the “sailor” in the Old Spice advertisements during the 1970s and 1980s.

Besides this, Perry has credits in many television shows and films like ‘Lipstick,’ ‘Midway,’ ‘The Legend of the Lone Ranger,’ ‘Only When I Laugh,’ ‘Independence Day,’ ‘George of the Jungle,’ ‘The West Wing,’ and ‘L.A. Law.’ More notably, he portrayed General Douglas MacArthur in ‘Farewell to the King’ in 1989.

During the 1978-79 season, Perry, along with Stephanie Edwards, hosted EveryDay, a syndicated talk/variety show. They both earned nominations for a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service, or Variety Series but lost to Phil Donahue.

Perry had the opportunity to act alongside his son, Matthew, in the movie ‘Fools Rush In’ in 1997 and in an episode of the sitcom ‘Scrubs.’ He also made an appearance in ‘Friends,’ playing the father of Joshua, Rachel Green’s boyfriend.

Matthew Perry’s Family Life: Siblings and Extended Family

Matthew Perry did not grow up as an only child. His parents’ subsequent marriages after their divorce offered him a roaster of siblings, including a half-brother, Willy Morrison, from his father’s remarriage and a younger sister, Madeleine Perry, from his mother’s second marriage. Their close-knit bond and family interactions shaped much of Matthew’s life.

The Keith Morrison Mystery: Matthew Perry’s Connection

The rumor mill often speculated about Matthew Perry’s potential relationship with prominent TV journalist Keith Morrison, with many fans wondering if Morrison was Perry’s real father. The truth, however, is that Keith Morrison is not a blood relative but rather Matthew’s stepfather, thanks to Morrison’s marriage to Suzanne after her divorce from John.

The Untimely Death of Matthew Perry

On October 28, 2023, a wave of sadness swept across fans and well-wishers as news broke that Matthew Perry had been found unresponsive in his hot tub in his Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles home. Pronounced dead at the age of 54 by the Los Angeles Police Department, the cause of death remains uncertain, listed as “deferred” by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office pending further investigation.

Matthew Perry’s legacy, particularly the influence of his parents and family, paints a moving narrative of both personal trials and victories. A renowned actor and loved personality, he left behind a rich tapestry of cherished work and memorable moments.

Matthew Perry’s life and journey are thoroughly documented in his book Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, available on Blinkist. Explore his life’s chapters with a free 7-day trial, a fitting tribute to a man who brought laughter and joy to so many screens.

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