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13 Times Life Imitated Art for the BH90210 Cast, From Breast Cancer to Cheating Death

From harrowing health battles to the pursuit of musical dreams, the gang from West Beverly High experienced a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs throughout high school and college. But the drama wasn’t just contained to the screen. We’ve compiled a list for Beverly Hills, 90210 counting up 13 times life imitated art for the cast — and honestly, the parallels are almost spooky. 

When all the original drama went down, little did the actors playing out those on-screen scenarios know that many of those moments would be echoed down the line in their real lives. As the ’90s favorites reunite for Fox’s BH90210 reprisal, SheKnows is looking back at some of the surprising moments in the lives of Jason Priestley (Brandon), Shannen Doherty (Brenda), Jennie Garth (Kelly), Tori Spelling (Donna), Ian Ziering (Steve), Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea), Brian Austin Green (David) and the late Luke Perry (Dylan).

From Shannen Doherty’s experience with breast cancer back in 2015 to Jason Priestley’s figure-skating routine on SNL, many of these actors have found themselves living through what their characters had written for them years back. Now that we’ve rounded all these instances up, we’re curious how many of them the actors themselves have realized mimic the plot of BH90210 — and whether that makes things better or worse.

Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer Awareness month. This image is so personal to me. I had started chemo. Was using a cold cap in hope to not lose my hair. End result was clumps in my hands. I was sick, felt like I was losing myself. Gained people and lost people. Got weak and got strong. Felt ugly and yet more beautiful inside than I had ever felt before. I remember this like it was yesterday, like it was a minute ago. Cancer has so many phases. Shock, denial, acceptance, anger, resentment, rebellion, fear, appreciation, beauty. Remission. Even then, the phases keep coming. Cancer is with you forever. Those who have experienced it know that even after you’ve kicked it’s ass, it still impacts you, in good ways and bad. You still go thru the roller coaster of emotions. You still need support and love. And you can still grasp life and live, live live. #cancer #cancerslayer

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On-screen: During a study session at the Walsh household, Kelly finds a magazine article about how to self-examine breasts for potential lumps and the girls decide to check themselves. Feeling something near her armpit, Brenda lies and declares “all clear,” but later spends an hour in the bathroom examining it before confiding in her mom.

The next day, a needle biopsy reveals the lump is a mass, not a cyst, raising alarm bells and leading to Brenda missing her SATs for a further biopsy, while experiencing visions of her funeral. Luckily, it turns out to be fibroadenoma, a lump often caused by high levels of estrogen and common in teenage girls.

Off-screen: Shannen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy. She shared that she was in remission in April 2017. Reflecting on the parallel journey during a panel session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills recently, Shannen said it’s now one of her proudest storylines. “The breast cancer scare for Brenda, was then impactful, but even more so now,” she said. “People refer to it with my own personal cancer journey. I was proud of it then but I’m incredibly proud of it now and it’s a testament to the show back then – and all of us, our writers and producers – to how willing they were to address issues in a day and age where not a lot of shows were addressing serious issues.”

Near Death Experiences

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Ed Reinke/AP/Shutterstock. Ed Reinke/AP/Shutterstock.

On-screen: Brandon faced more than one near-death moment during the series. In season two, the gang head to a cabin in the woods and while everyone else sleeps in following a crazy night, Brandon and Dylan take off on a hike and climb a picturesque peak. Brandon gets a little too close to the edge and slips, clinging for life with his fingertips until Dylan pulls him to safety. “Man, I thought my number was up,” he says after being rescued.

Off-screen: Jason has been involved in several accidents over the years, including crashing a powerboat in Miami, totaling a Porsche in Hollywood in 1999 (after which he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge and completed an alcohol counseling program) and falling off a horse while filming TV show The Code in 2015. However, his scariest accident was at the Kentucky Speedway in 2002, during which he hit a patch of pellets and smashed his car, resulting in a fractured spine and feet, broken nose and concussion.

Puppy Love

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Yep she's mine. I love my human @theshando

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On-screen: In season one, Brenda finds herself being followed home by a stray dog while she’s out jogging. Admitting she doesn’t exactly love dogs, she reluctantly takes in the pup and eventually changes her tune completely, naming him Wally, fighting with her parents to let him stay in their garage and becoming distraught when he goes missing.

Off-screen: Shannen’s special bond with her German Shephard, Bowie, played a significant role in her life and health, with the actress telling ET in 2016 that it was the dog that first appeared to detect her cancer. “She would obsessively sniff right here on my right side for a long time before,” Shannen shared. “So, it made sense when I got diagnosed. When I got back from [mastectomy] surgery, [Bowie] again was right in this area. Then when I had my first chemo, she would sniff my entire body up and down. She was always protective before, but she has become this crazy, protective dog.”

Ladies’ Man

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Broadimage/Shutterstock. Broadimage/Shutterstock.

On-screen: Renown ladies’ man Steve sure knew how to charm the ladies during his time on the show, whether it was winning a date with Celeste on a TV show or juggling multiple hotties at one time.

Off-screen: Ian’s popularity with women lead to the actor landing a gig at the ultimate ladies’ night out — Las Vegas male revue show, Chippendales, which he stripped off for during a guest headlining gig in 2013.

Skater Boy

On-screen: Brandon fell hard for figure skater Trisha Kinney in season two, enjoying romantic spins around the ice, sound-tracked by “Time of My Life.” While their relationship was brief due to Trisha’s commitment to training for the Olympics, it was those memories that flashed through Brandon’s mind before graduation, when asked who was the most special of all the many ladies he had dated in high school.

Off-screen: A few weeks later, Jason put his own figure skating talents on show as part of a Saturday Night Live sketch in honor of the 1992 Winter Olympics. Jason portrayed American skater Brian Demming in the hilarious skit, which saw him unable to stop falling over and ended the routine covered in blood.


On-screen:During season two, a gunman enters the Peach Pit and forces Brenda to empty the till and hand over all the cash, while Brandon and Dylan are taking the garbage out.

Off-screen: In 2010, several homes in Jason’s Los Angeles neighborhood were reportedly burgled. While nothing was taken from Jason’s home, the suspect did enter his property, according to TMZ.


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Alex Berliner/BEI/Shutterstock. Alex Berliner/BEI/Shutterstock.

On-screen: Emily Valentine (played by Christine Elise) arrives in season two and becomes romantically involved with Brandon. Despite spiking his drink during a wild night out, the two remain close until she leaves the picture to seek help for her personal issues. They later rekindle their romance during a trip Brandon takes to San Francisco over Thanksgiving.

Off-screen: Christine and Jason dated for five years. “Christine was my first full-fledged adult relationship,” Jason wrote in his 2014 book, Jason Priestley: A Memoir.

Musical Dreams

On-screen: David’s passion for music is evident from the early episodes in which he’s constantly bopping around to the latest beats, as well as spinning tunes at school and college radio. With Steve as his manager he even lands a record deal in season three, although he bows out after clashing with a superstar producer while trying to retain the integrity of his sound. He later gets to tour with Babyface over the summer.

Off-screen: Brian’s real-life love for music is reportedly what influenced David’s passion on the show. “I went to junior high for music, because my father is a drummer and I grew up playing,” he told Details magazine. “Hip-hop started, and everyone was break dancing, and that was kind of a big thing for me. I started doing commercials, but acting wasn’t anything I ever considered doing as a career. I had every intention of being a musician. After 90210 started, I started to miss music and wanted to get back into it. So, I got a bunch of equipment and started producing and writing songs on my own. I had a group with Damon Elliott at one point, Dionne Warwick’s son. And because I was so into it personally, the writers on the show thought, ‘Oh, this is something we can add to the character.'”

Brian even wrote David’s songs on the show, while off-screen he released a hip hop album, One Stop Carnival, in 1996.

And for the show’s revival, David played an integral part of the musical scenes and score. “It shows that he comes from a musical background when he gives notes or has been on the calls,” BH90210 composer Brian H. Kim told SheKnows. “He seems to have the greatest understanding of what it takes to make the song or the score. That’s been really cool for me as somebody who saw him on TV as a kid. The fact I can talk to him about music now is very cool!”

Weight Loss

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Happy Sunday everybody! Here’s a lil sneak peak into my weekly workout regime. I’ve spent the past 18 months or so focusing on my health. Mostly mental and spiritual, but my physical health has played a huge part in me being confident and happy. Life offers us many challenges and seeming obstacles, but it’s in those moments that we grow and deepen our connection with ourselves and our potential. Daily exercise has not only helped transform my body back to a healthy place, but quite honestly it’s kept me alive. Just having a routine, a committed time allocated to “working out” at least 3x a week has made me remember that taking care of myself is the most important thing I can do. Sure some days I’d rather stay in bed or distract myself by taking care of everyone else’s needs, but everyday is a a new day, an opportunity to live your best life! My hope is that sharing this with you will maybe inspire you (or give you a little laugh 🤭) to take better care of yourself💕 Thank you to my amazing and motivating trainer Jason Cohen @alive_shermanoaks for making me sweat, laugh, and show up for myself xo

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On-screen: After attending a Montecito spa where a staffer assured her that a treatment would take care of her “problem areas,” Kelly becomes insecure about her looks. In following episodes, people notice her eating less, and she eventually starts taking diet pills, becoming so dependent on the appetite suppressors that she collapses and is admitted to hospital during her 18th birthday bash.

Off-screen: While Jennie looks great in BH90210, and has never discussed going to the extremes that Kelly did, she has shared her weight journey throughout the years. “Every day, I try to schedule something in, whether it’s hiking with my dog or jogging or going to the gym,” she told People in 2013, after dropping 30 pounds and appearing on the magazine’s cover in 2012. “Those are the things I’m focused on right now.” Jennie talked further about weight goals in 2017, reportedly telling InTouch Weeklythat she wanted to get in better shape for her husband, Dave Abrams. “I’m married to a much younger man, and I want to stay looking good for him as long as possible.”


On-screen: After David’s dad, Mel, and Kelly’s mom, Jackie, end their marriage, the couple fight for custody of their daughter, Erin, in season four. The move causes intense friction between Kelly and Brian. Donna frequently ends up in the middle of their fights, begging them to stop letting their parents’ drama damage their friendship.

Off-screen: With tension between Shannen and Jennie during filming of the series, Tori frequently stepped in to break up arguments between the pair, according to Jennie’s 2014 book, Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde. “Poor Tori, the youngest of the three of us was, inevitably, often caught in the middle and she was always trying to smooth things over, trying to get Shan and me off each other’s backs and get along, but her efforts usually failed,” she wrote. However, these days all is well with the ladies having formed a strong professional and personal relationship, even enjoying a trip to Las Vegas to catch Ian in Chippendalesin 2013.

Cheating Scandal

On-screen:  After four seasons of unsuccessfully pressuring Donna to have sex with him, David hooks up with a music executive in a limo during Mardi Gras, with Donna finding the two alongside a condom wrapper. They later make amends and ended up getting married.

Off-screen: Tori’s real-life husband, Dean McDermott, confessed to cheating on the actress, with whom he has five children. The couple worked through their issues and are still together. “I really, really wish that I had been given the knowledge of thinking with your head, not your penis, because I did a lot of thinking with my penis,” he said on his new podcast. “For me, it wasn’t about T. It was about inadequacies in myself. I felt so bad about myself, I felt like a piece of s–t, I needed to do that to feel some kind of power. It was horrible and I’m an a–hole, piece of s-t for doing it, [but now] our relationship is better than ever.” Echoing his sentiments about being closer than ever, Tori recently shared a cute snap of the couple enjoying the “best summer weekend,” with their five children in Whistler.


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Our hearts go out to all the people affected by and still being affected by the #woolseyfire . It’s in a time of utter disaster and despair that humanity steps up. Amazing to see the outpour of generosity and kindness that people have shown towards other humans and animals affected by the fires and evacuations. . My big brood and I were evacuated last night. My eyes swell with happy tears when I reflect on how many friends immediately reached out and offered their homes to us. No small offer when you are talking about a family of seven. Some I don’t even know that well but as part of our school community they stepped up. Thank you all! . And, thank you most of all to my childhood, adulthood, everything in between, and lifelong friend @jenniegarth for giving our ginormous family flesh and fur your entire house to stay at in a moments notice. I’m not good at asking for what I need. But only my best friend would know that and jump in and just make it happen! . And, I’m wearing your perfumed oil ( not because I was going through your nightstand (PS I was just looking for the tv remote) but bc it reminds me of you and how much I love you) my sister for life… . Let’s keep praying and doing our part. Never stop showing what some will always underestimate, that kindness will always win in the long run. Love to everyone. . PS- thx to our friends for housing our chickens and our other friends for housing our dragons and guinea piggy . . #lovewins #kindnessismagic #communityfirst #friendship #evacuation #prayerwarriors #warriorsoul #humanityfirst #fires

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On-screen: A party thrown by Steve, with help from Donna and co., almost turns deadly after a fire breaks out, leaving Kelly trapped in the bathroom before being rescued and hospitalized with severe burns. Donna and the gang manage to get out unharmed.

Off-screen: Tori also got out in time after her neighborhood was evacuated due to California’s Woolsey wildfires in 2018. Where did she and her troop go to stay? With Jennie!

Exchange An Egg?

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Frank Micelotta/Fox/Picturegroup/Shutterstock. Frank Micelotta/Fox/Picturegroup/Shutterstock.

On-screen: During season two, wayward Emily encourages the group to explore the underground club scene, with their night out involving taking an egg to an address found on a flyer and exchanging it for the location of a secret club.

Off-screen: Fans who attended Fox and PopSugar’s Peach Pit pop-up in West Hollywood, California, over the weekend were able to replicate the experience somewhat by presenting an egg to bartenders in return for surprise gifts, including BH90210 cookies!

*BH90210 airs on Global TV on Wednesdays.


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