Both Perry and his stepfather Morrison talked a great deal about their special bond
Matthew Perry shared a close relationship with his stepfather Keith Morrison.
The Friends actor, who died on Oct. 28 at age 54, was the only son of John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Morrison. However, his family expanded when John and Suzanne divorced, then went on to remarry and welcome more children with their respective partners: Suzanne wed Morrison in 1981, while John married his wife Debbie the same year.
Over the years, both Perry and his stepfather Morrison talked a great deal about their special bond, with the actor recalling their early relationship in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.
“There’s no describing what a wonder it is,” Morrison previously told PEOPLE about their blended family. “When we’re all together, it’s just a brew that you could not mix no matter how hard you tried if you did it by hand.”
Following the actor’s death, Perry’s family released a statement to PEOPLE, saying "We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother. Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend. You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love."
Read on for everything the two shared about their relationship.
Matthew gave his mother away at her wedding to Keith
In his 2022 memoir, Perry opened up about his parents’ divorce and how it affected him when they had more children with their respective partners. While discussing his mother’s marriage to Morrison, he shared that he was the one who gave his mother away at the wedding.
Matthew referred to Keith as a “lovely” man
Though Perry admitted that he occasionally struggled to feel like a part of the family as his parents welcomed more children, he referred to Morrison as a “lovely” man who “lived for [his] mother.”
“The only thing that is annoying about Keith is that he always takes my mother’s side,” he wrote. “He is her protector. I can’t tell you how many times my mother has done something that I may have taken issue with and I’ve been told by Keith that it never happened. Some would call this gaslighting, others would call it gaslighting — it’s gaslighting. But my family was held together by one man, and that was Keith Morrison.”
Keith said Matthew was “very bright” growing up
During an interview with PEOPLE in 2020, Morrison had nothing but kind words to say about his stepson, noting that he had been "remarkable" since adolescence.
"He's one of those people who always is the center of the room for a reason and it was so as a kid," Morrison said of Perry. "On the hockey team, I used to take him off to his hockey games on Saturday mornings. It was like Matthew and the hockey team. He was the one who scored all the goals. He was the guy. The same on the tennis court. He was extremely, extremely good on the tennis court and very intense.”
“He's an intense, talented, focused character,” he added. “He's very bright. That was always the case as he was growing up."
Related: All About Matthew Perry's 5 Siblings
Keith always knew Matthew was destined to become famous
During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live in 2018, Morrison expressed that he always knew Perry was destined to be famous, just “not as an actor.”
The journalist later recalled to PEOPLE that Perry was doubting his future in the entertainment industry, just at the moment he landed his career-defining role. "He was at a stage where [he was questioning] if this acting thing was going to work or not," Morrison said. "Then suddenly, boy did it ever.”
He added that Perry’s role as Chandler on Friends couldn’t have been more perfect for him. “It matched his particular sense of humor precisely, whether they wrote that for him knowing what he was like or whether he adapted it more for himself, probably a combination of the two,” he said. “That character is Matthew. Yeah, and it always has been him. He's just a talented soul, a smart guy."
Matthew lived with his mom and Keith until he was 15
Though Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he grew up in Ottawa, Ontario with his mother, before eventually moving to Toronto when she got married to Morrison. In his 2022 memoir, Perry expressed that he “hadn’t been happy with the move to Toronto," adding that he “hadn’t even been included in the decision” and had a hard time leaving his friends behind.
Additionally, he wrote, he felt that with his new siblings, there was now “a family growing up around me, a family I didn’t really feel a part of."
“I was so often on the outside looking in,” he wrote. As a result, Perry decided to move to Los Angeles to spend time with his father when he was 15 years old.
Keith and Suzanne helped Matthew through his 2018 health scare
In his 2022 memoir, Perry talked about how his family supported him through various highs and lows, recalling one moment when his mother and Morrison showed up at his house and “saved [his] life.” Notably, Morrison and Suzanne were by Perry’s side in 2018 when his colon ruptured as a result of using OxyContin.
"We were able to be with him a lot of the time through that, which was I think good for everybody," Morrison told PEOPLE of Perry’s health scare. "It's awful when people have a serious [illness] and have to have operations and worry about whether or not they're going to make it through. It brings the whole family closer. We all get to be there to pull for him. He's coming through it."
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