The late Matthew Perry was raised by his father John Bennett Perry, mother Suzanne Morrison and stepfather Keith Morrison
Matthew Perry always had the support of his parents.
The Friends actor, who died on Oct. 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, was raised by his father, John Bennett Perry, mother, Suzanne Morrison, and stepfather, Dateline's Keith Morrison. John and Suzanne welcomed Matthew in 1969, though the two split less than a year later. Both John and Suzanne went on to remarry and welcome more children with their respective partners: Suzanne wed Keith in 1981, while John married wife Debbie the same year.
Matthew grew up in Ottawa, Canada, with his mother before moving to California to live with his father as a teenager. He followed in the footsteps of John, who is also an actor, and the two shared the screen on many occasions. While John and Matthew typically played father and son, the elder Perry also appeared on Matthew's hit show Friends in 1998.
Matthew's parents were by his side throughout his long struggle with addiction, too. When Matthew was hospitalized in 2018 after his colon burst due to years of opioid use, they rushed to the hospital to be with their son.
Keith — who has known Matthew since he was 10 — was also there for the actor, telling PEOPLE in 2020, "We were able to be with him a lot of the time through that, which was I think good for everybody."
The Dateline correspondent also discussed his relationship with Matthew, saying his stepson 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 shared. "He's an intense, talented, focused character. He's very bright. That was always the case as he was growing up."
After Matthew died at age 54 in October 2023, his family told PEOPLE in an exclusive statement they were "heartbroken" by his "tragic" death.
"We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother," the family said. "Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend."
From their years raising the Hollywood star to how they supported him through his struggles, here's everything to know about Matthew Perry's parents and their relationship with the late actor.
His parents John and Suzanne divorced before Matthew’s first birthday
John and Suzanne were married for less than two years before separating ahead of their son’s first birthday. Following their split, Matthew and Suzanne moved from Williamstown, Massachusetts, to her hometown of Ottawa.
Matthew had vivid memories of shuttling back and forth between his mother and father, who had moved to California. “When I was 5 years old, my parents put me on a plane alone from Montreal to Los Angeles. And I was terrified,” Matthew told PEOPLE in October 2022. “My feet didn’t even touch the floor. And then when I saw the lights of the city, I knew we were landing, that my dad was going to pick me up, and I’d have a parent again.”
At 15, Matthew moved to California to live with his father John, his stepmom Debbie and his half-sister Marie.
John Bennett Perry is an actor
Before Matthew played Chandler Bing on Friends, his father was in the spotlight. In addition to performing with the Ojai Valley Boys, a folk-country trio, John had a long-running stint as a sailor in a series of Old Spice commercials.
John also appeared on Little House on the Prairie and Murder, She Wrote. "I didn't get much of a chance to see him as a kid," Matthew told PEOPLE of his father in 1995. "He'd call up and say, 'I'm getting killed on Mannix this Thursday. Look for me.' "
John told PEOPLE he had mixed emotions about Matthew following in his footsteps after watching him in a school production of Our Town. "I thought, 'We've got a problem here,' " he recalled. "'He's good. There's another generation shot to hell!' ”
Suzanne worked for Justin Trudeau’s dad
Matthew’s mother worked in journalism as a TV anchor in Canada and as a press secretary for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Matthew attended grade school with Pierre’s son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In his memoir, Matthew recalled his frustration with being a “latchkey kid" during his mother's "stressful" tenure with the prime minister. “That's when the bad behavior started,” he wrote. “I got s----- grades, I started smoking, I beat up Pierre's son.”
The actor had previously recalled the time when he and his friends "beat up" Justin Trudeau during a 2017 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. "I think he was excelling in a sport that we weren't, so it was pure jealousy. And, you know, we beat him up," he told host Jimmy Kimmel.
When Trudeau jokingly asked Matthew for a "rematch" on X (formerly Twitter) in 2017, Matthew declined and tweeted, “I think I will pass at your request for a rematch, kind sir (given that you currently have an army at your disposal)."
After Matthew's death in 2023, Trudeau paid tribute to his childhood friend on X, writing, "I'll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved — and you will be missed."
Keith Morrison has been a Dateline correspondent since 1995
Matthew’s stepfather, Keith, has worked for Dateline NBC since 1995. In 2020, he opened up to PEOPLE about his long career, saying, "I had no expectation this would become what it has. All these years later, this job, it’s the love of my life.”
The journalist also shared that he had no plans to retire. “I’ll just go on as long as I can, because why not?” he added. “I’m extremely lucky.”
His parents brought Matthew to rehab when he reached out for help
On Feb. 23, 2001, Matthew called his parents from a Dallas hotel room, asking for their help in getting sober. "I was in fear of losing my life," he told PEOPLE the next year. "There's a moment of clarity where you have to prioritize your life. I listened to it."
Matthew told PEOPLE that he initially developed a dependency on Vicodin after a jet ski accident in 1997. In 2001, he left Dallas, where he was filming Serving Sara (2002), and met his parents in L.A. so they could take him to rehab. "It was scary. I didn't want to die," he said. "But I'm grateful for how bad it got. It only made me more adamant about trying to get better."
Years later, John was with Matthew when the Friends star had a spiritual moment in his kitchen, which led him to quit drinking. “I couldn’t see the kitchen anymore,” Matthew told PEOPLE in 2022. “It was just this light, and I felt loved and understood, and in the company of God or whatever. My dad was right next to me, and we were holding hands.”
Matthew and John appeared together on-screen
John and Matthew played father and son on multiple occasions, including a 2004 Scrubs episode that Matthew also directed. John’s brother Tony also appeared in the episode, Matthew told the News-Times.
John also appeared in 1997's Fools Rush In as Richard Whitman, father to Matthew’s Alex Whitman. In addition, Matthew and John co-produced the play The Whole Banana at the Court Theatre in West Hollywood, California, according to Playbill. Deadline reported that they also produced the 2013 film adaptation.
John was on an episode of Friends
One of the father-son duo’s most memorable appearances was on Matthew’s hit show Friends. John guest-starred in season 4, episode 18, “The One with Rachel’s New Dress.”
Unlike in their other projects, however, they didn’t play father and son. John portrayed the father of Rachel’s boyfriend, Joshua Burgin. When Joshua’s parents returned from a holiday and found Rachel in a nightgown, Mr. Burgin quipped, “I like her. She seems smart.”
Matthew has several siblings from John and Suzanne's later marriages
Though John and Suzanne only had one child, Matthew, during their marriage, they both had more children with their subsequent spouses.
Suzanne tied the knot with Keith in 1981, and they welcomed four more children: Caitlin, Emily, Will and Madeline. Keith also has a son named Michael from a previous relationship. “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,” Keith told PEOPLE of his family in 2020. “There’s no describing what a wonder it is.”
John exchanged vows with his wife Debbie in July 1981. The couple later welcomed a daughter, Mia.
Suzanne is a former beauty queen
Matthew revealed in his 2022 memoir that his mother was a beauty queen before marrying John. In 1966, Suzanne, then a University of Toronto student, was crowned Miss Canadian University Snow Queen; she competed against students from schools across the country.
Keith didn’t think Matthew would become an actor
The journalist later told PEOPLE that Matthew had been figuring out if the industry was for him when he landed his role as Chandler Bing. "He was at a stage where [he was questioning] if this acting thing was going to work or not," Keith said. "Then suddenly, boy did it ever.”
Keith wasn’t surprised that Matthew excelled in that particular role, however. “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 and John appeared in PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive issue in 2003
When Matthew was featured in PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive issue in 2003, John was on hand for the photo shoot. “That was one of the best moments I’ve ever had,” the Mr. Sunshine alum told Katie Couric in 2004. “Just because I get to show up to that photo shoot with my father. And he and I really enjoy sharing time. And it's just so corny. The sexiest father and son?”
John is distantly related to Courteney Cox’s mom
According to the news outlet, genealogists at MyHeritage discovered that Cox’s mother, Courteney Copeland, and John share a pair of ancestors: William Hasborn Haskell III and his wife Ellen Haskell, who lived in England in the 17th century.
Copeland descends from the Haskells’ son Roger, while John is a descendant of their son William IV, making Matthew and Cox 11th cousins once removed.
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