8″ x 10″ Signed June 16, 1997 through the mail
Actor. Born August 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His parents divorced when he was less than a year old, and Perry moved with his mother, Suzanne, to her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where Suzanne later worked as a press secretary for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. A talented tennis player, Perry was ranked No. 2 among junior players in Canada when he was 13 years old. At virtually the same time, he discovered acting, earning his first applause for his role in a seventh-grade production called The Life and Death of Sneaky Fitch.
When he was 15, Perry decided to move to Los Angeles to spend some time with his father, John Bennett Perry, an actor best known to audiences as the smooth-faced sailor on a series of commercials for Old Spice. Soon after he lost his first big U.S. tennis match, his acting career kicked into gear when director William Richert spotted Perry in a Los Angeles restaurant and asked him to audition for his movie, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (filmed in 1986; released 1988), starring River Phoenix. Perry landed the role, which marked his first significant professional acting experience.
Shortly after his graduation from high school, Perry landed the lead in a short-lived sitcom called Second Chance. After the show was cancelled after just one season in 1987-88, Perry began a series of guest appearances on more successful sitcoms, most notably Growing Pains. He also appeared in the 1989 film She’s Out of Control, starring Tony Danza, and had more significant roles in such TV movies as Dance ‘Til Dawn (1988), Call Me Anna (1990), Deadly Relations (1993), and the star-studded Parallel Lives (1994). In 1992, Perry starred in another doomed sitcom, Home Free, which again lasted only one season.
In 1994, Perry and his longtime friend and writing partner Andrew Hill Newman pitched the pilot for a sitcom called Maxwell’s House, about a group of twentysomething friends, to the NBC television network. Ultimately, NBC scrapped Maxwell’s House in favor of a similar sitcom already in the works. The resilient Perry auditioned for the show, called simply Friends, and won the role of Chandler Bing, the terminally wisecracking member of the titular gang of six young New Yorkers.
Friends was an overnight sensation, and Perry and his five co-stars—Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer—became some of the best-known faces on network TV. Through six seasons and counting, as well as numerous salary negotiations (in 2000 Perry and his fellow cast members signed on to receive $750,000 per episode each), the show remained one of the highest-ranking sitcoms in America, boosting NBC’s popularity considerably and gaining an even bigger fan base through syndication.
Perry’s first starring feature film role was in the disappointing romantic comedy Fools Rush In (1997), co-starring Salma Hayek. In 1998, he appeared with the late comedian Chris Farley in Almost Heroes, Farley’s last film. Perry’s next effort was another mediocre romantic comedy, Three to Tango (1999), featuring fellow TV stars Neve Campbell and Dylan McDermott as the other points of an unusual love triangle. He had more success parlaying his preppy smart-aleck shtick into the role of a suburban dentist in the hit comedy The Whole Nine Yards (2000), co-starring Bruce Willis as the mob hitman who moves in next door.
In addition to his career highs and lows, Perry has also made headlines for his personal problems, including a 1997 stint in a rehab clinic after he became addicted to painkillers. In May 2000, Perry was again hospitalized, this time for a serious stomach ailment. Shortly after his release from the hospital, Perry was involved in a car accident in which he drove his Porsche into the porch of a Hollywood Hills home after reportedly swerving to avoid another car.
In the spring of 2000, in the middle of filming Friends as well as his next big screen project, Servicing Sara, with Elizabeth Hurley, Perry was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic again, this time for undisclosed reasons. He returned briefly to the set of Friends to film the season’s last two episodes, but the future of Servicing Sara remains in doubt while Perry is confined to rehab.
Perry has been romantically linked to the actresses Yasmine Bleeth, Julia Roberts (whom he met when she guest-starred on a 1995 episode of Friends), and Rene Ashton.