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Dean Cain says pal Luke Perry taught him 1 lasting lesson

They met on the set on "Beverly Hills, 90210" 27 years ago, and Perry made a big impression on the actor during that first hello.
/ Source: TODAY

Luke Perry's death has hit his fans, friends and former co-stars hard, and one man who could call himself all three of those things visited TODAY Tuesday and shared his memories of the late star.

Dean Cain worked alongside Perry and the rest of the cast of the beloved teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" during his brief stint on the show 27 years ago. He played Rick, the good guy Brenda (Shannen Doherty) rebounded with after her break from bad boy Dylan (Perry).

But while Cain and Perry's characters had an understandably tense first meeting on-screen, Cain's first meeting with Perry off-screen was notably different.

"I'd done three or four episodes already, but I was only working with Shannen. Then I had the chance to meet the rest of the cast," he recalled.

Everyone else had long known each other, and Cain felt that it was a "territorial" environment on set, at least he felt that way until a then-stranger welcomed him.

"(Luke) came marching right up to me and said, 'Hey, Dean. I'm Luke — nice to meet you. ... You're doing such great work on the show, thanks for being here,'" Cain quoted the man who went on to become a dear friend.

He can quote Perry from that introduction so easily because that moment made a big impact on his life. Perry's simple act of kindness and recognition truly taught him a lesson.

"I felt so welcomed and part of the crew that I started doing that when I had my own show," the former "Lois & Clark" star explained. "I made sure that every single time I had a co-star come on, I went and knocked on the trailer and I said, 'Hello. Thank you so much for being here.' Something I learned from him."

And even in his death from a sudden stroke at age 52, Perry imparted another lesson to Cain — appreciate every second of life.

"We're the same age," the actor said. "It makes you really think about it, and I certainly told my son (last night) that I loved him more times than I normally do — which is a lot anyway."

Cain told TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford that he loved Perry and that his friend was a true "sweetheart of a man."