"Saved by the Bell" Star Dustin Diamond, Dead at 44 After Cancer Battle
By: Adam Beam 2/7/21
Photo Courtesy: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo/The Associated Press
For kids of the 1990’s, they knew him as Screech and followed him in his times at Bayside High School in the NBC sitcom Saved by the Bell.
His real name was Dustin Diamond, who after a recent diagnosis with cancer just three weeks ago has passed away at the age of 44. The actor was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma, as revealed by Mark Diamond, Dustin’s father.
When Saved by the Bell premiered back in 1987, then titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss, it was a massive success for the network. One of its breakout stars was then 11-year-old Dustin Diamond, who was able to beat out 5,000 other young actors for the role of Screech. Despite the show ending in 1992, Diamond would continue to play Screech in the spin off series Saved by the Bell: The New Class which ran for seven seasons from 1993 to 2000.
Despite being such an integral part of the series since the beginning, Diamond would find difficulty when looking for work after the series’ end, and years later Diamond would speak openly of the troubles that came with the fame from Saved by the Bell.
In a 2013 segment of Oprah’s Where Are They Now, Diamond expressed that, “The hardest part about being a child star is giving up your childhood.”
Troubles would follow Dustin Diamond in the early 2000’s, most infamously with the release of a sex tape which he would later express in that same interview with Oprah that he would regret this decision. Another one of Diamond’s regrets was a tell-all book he published in 2009 entitled Behind the Bell, a book that discussed the sex and drugs that went on behind the scenes of the series. Though in that time Diamond would make appearances in a handful of celebrity reality shows like Celebrity Boxing 2.
The legal troubles would ultimately hit Diamond in 2015 after he was accused of stabbing a man during an altercation in a Wisconsin bar. However, the court would charge Diamond of two misdemeanors as the knife was pulled out in self-defense, ending up with four months in jail.
Despite the stories of drama behind the scenes of the original series, Diamond always was vocal about a reunion with his fellow castmates, but he was always exempt from any reunions. Most notably, his character being written out of the recent reboot of the series, with the show explaining that his character was off on the International Space Station.
With the passing of Dustin Diamond, his former castmates have spoken out about the times they had with him. Mark Paul Gosselaar called Diamond a “comedic genius”, Mario Lopez saying, "The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on."