Long before hits like Scandal, Revenge, and the resurgence of nighttime soaps, there was a show about a bunch of “typical” California high school kids dealing with some seriously soapy dramas—infidelity, teen pregnancy, abortion, STDs, suicide, divorce, family secrets, eating disorders—oh, and let’s not forget, being busted boozing it up at prom! We’re talking about Beverly Hills, 90210, the iconic primetime soap that helped define a decade with its cast of telegenic teen stars, their carefully coifed sideburns, and unforgettable ‘90s fashions (white tees and mom jeans, oh my!). And should we even dare mention that infectious theme song? Too late.
Created by a then relatively unknown writer named Darren Starr, the series revolved around twins Brenda (Shannen Doherty) and Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley), who were uprooted from their small Minnesota town and transplanted into the glamorous trappings of La La Land. Their new circle of friends included rebellious Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), class clown Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), goody two-shoes Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), brainiac Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), spoiled Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), and resident nerd David Silver (Brian Austin Green).
When the show debuted on October 4th, 1990, most of the cast were in their 20s and destined to become teen idols. Now, the Peach Pit gang is heading into middle age—Ian Ziering just hit the big 5-0 and Luke Perry isn’t far behind—but age hasn’t slowed them down. Our 90210 favorites are fighting deadly fish, scoring points on the dance floor, surviving race car crashes and, read on, for more.
Shannen Doherty grew up on the tube, starting with a role on Little House on the Prairie at age 11. In 1989, she made her film debut in the cult teen classic Heathers, which helped launch her career, and led to her landing a lead role on 90210. Like many childhood stars, her adult life has had plenty of crazy moments including on-the-set feuds and off-the-set romances. Her character, Brenda Walsh, may have been demure, but Doherty eventually got axed from 90210 in 1994 for her diva-ish antics. Ironically, she teamed up with 90210 producer Aaron Spelling on another hit, Charmed, only to get booted off that show for more co-star conflicts, this time with Alyssa Milano. Other publicity-worthy incidents for Doherty include two busted marriages, a report of writing bad checks, jail time for drunk driving, nude appearances in Playboy, and the honor of being the first eliminated on the 2010 season of Dancing with the Stars. Today, she is married to celeb photographer, Kurt Iswarienko, and her wedding was featured on WE tv’s reality show, Shannen Says, in 2012.
Gabrielle Carteris, the oldest of the 90210 gang, was closing in on 30 while playing 16-year-old smarty Andrea Zuckerman. The Sarah Lawrence College grad began her acting career in the ‘80s on the soap opera Another World. She decided to leave 90210 in 1995 for her own daytime talk show, but it got nixed after one season. Over the years, Carteris has appeared in TV movies, done voice-over work for video games, made cameos on shows like Criminal Minds and Longmire, and had a stint on the first season of VH1’s reality show The Surreal Life, alongside former fellow teen star Corey Feldman, MC Hammer, and Vince Neil. Carteris is married to stockbroker Charles Isaacs and has two daughters.
Donna Martin a.k.a Tori Spelling a.k.a. the daughter of 90210 producer Aaron Spelling grew up making cameos on several of her dad’s shows, including Vega$, T.J. Hooker, and The Love Boat. (Daddy Spelling also produced the 90210 spin-off Melrose Place.) After 90210, Spelling became a TV movie queen, and that’s when her real life took a plot turn worthy of one her on-screen dramas. She left her husband of two years, writer/actor Charlie Shanian, for Dean McDermott, her co-star in the Lifetime movie Mind Over Murder. Spelling and McDermott turned family life into reality TV stardom on Tori & Dean, a show which aired for five seasons on Oxygen, ending in 2012. The couple has four kids together and had their share of highly publicized marital woes in 2014, including McDermott’s reported infidelity and his stint in rehab. But, in true reality star fashion, Spelling and spouse are expected to air their family’s dirty laundry literally in True Tori, a docu-series on Lifetime. The ever-resilient Spelling is also teaming up with 90210 gal pal Jennie Garth as executive producers and co-stars of the new ABC Family series Mystery Girls.
Brian Austin Green
Just like some of his other 90210 cast members, Brian Austin Green made his breakthrough on a soap—he played the son of Donna Mill’s character on Knots Landing before playing geeky David Silver, student turned DJ turned musician. In 1996, during the show’s run, Green released a hip-hop album One Stop Carnival. While his hip-hop career never took off, he continued to act, appearing on a string of TV series including Smallville, Desperate Housewives, The Wedding Band, and most recently Anger Management with Charlie Sheen from 2012 to 2014. Offscreen, he was involved with Tiffani Thiessen in the mid-90s and Vanessa Marcil from 1999 to 2003. He and Marcil had a son in 2002. And, in 2010, the actor tied the knot with actress Megan Fox. They have two sons, Noah Shannon Green and Bodhi Ransom Green.
Luke Perry was rejected from over 200 auditions until landing roles on the soaps Loving in 1987 and Another World the following year. As 90210’s bad boy and loner Dylan McKay, Perry was constantly compared to the legendary James Dean and became an iconic ‘90s heartthrob. After the show ended, Perry went on to have quite an eclectic career, appearing in movies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV shows like HBO’s Oz, and even doing Broadway in drag as Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 2011, Perry reunited with 90210’s Jason Priestley, who directed him in the TV western Goodnight for Justice. More recently, he took on the role of a washed up musician who mentors a rock star wannabe in the 2014 film The Beat Beneath My Feet, which filmed in London. Off screen, Perry divorced his wife Minnie Sharp in 2003 and shares joint custody of their son and daughter.
Early in his career, Canadian-American actor Jason Priestley made appearances in the ‘80s TV series Airwolf, 21 Jump Street, and a flop sitcom Sister Kate before landing the lead role of Brandon Walsh on 90210. While Priestley is best known as 90210’s hunky hero, he also stepped behind the camera as a director and executive producer of the show. Like Doherty, his 90210 twin, Priestley had a brush with the law after he left the show: In 1999, he got into a drunk driving incident, pled no contest, and was sentenced to spend five nights in Los Angeles detention facility and to attend a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program. He got behind the wheel again in 2002, this time to pursue his passion for race car driving, which ended when he suffered a horrific crash, in which he broke his back, among other injuries. After intensive physical rehab, he made a full recovery and continues to act and direct. Today, Priestley lives in Los Angeles with his second wife, makeup artist Naomi Lowde and their two kids. His tell-all autobiography, Jason Priestley: A Memoir, will be released in May 2014.
90210 was really the beginning of Ian Ziering’s acting career, playing the show’s resident jock/frat boy Steve Sanders. After the show ended, Ziering’s TV fame stalled as did his marriage to 1997 Playboy Playmate, Nikki Schieler. But in recent years he’s made a pretty impressive comeback: In 2007, Ziering made his debut on the fourth season of Dancing With the Stars, and his smooth moves led him all the way to the semifinals. And, in 2013, he made a risky-yet-genius career move, starring in Syfy’s cheapie made-for-TV disaster movie, Sharknado, about killer sharks taking over Los Angeles. What could have been a killer flop became a killer hit, thanks to social media buzz, and Ziering is reprising his leading man role for the sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One. The actor has also found love again. He’s married to nurse Erin Kristine Ludwig and raising their two daughters together.
Jennie Garth was an unknown until 90210 catapulted her to fame as America’s sweetheart Kelly Taylor. Two years after the show’s finale, Garth hit TV gold again in the hit sitcom What I Like About You, playing big sis to Amanda Bynes. In 2008, she reprised her Kelly Taylor role on the Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot (just called 90210) for two seasons. Garth, like her 90210 co-star Ian Ziering, achieved Dancing with the Stars success, reaching the semifinals in 2007. And, like Tori Spelling, Garth met her husband, actor Peter Facinelli, co-starring with him in a TV movie, 1996’s An Unfinished Affair. The co-stars were married in 2001 and had three daughters before divorcing in 2013. Since splitting, there’s been plenty of gossip about Garth’s love life, including a rumored romance with Luke Perry. Beyond her personal life, Garth is working with Tori Spelling on ABC Family’s Mystery Girls and released her autobiography Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde in 2014.