Posted on: February 1, 2021, 01:17h.
Last updated on: February 1, 2021, 01:40h.
Dustin Diamond, best known for playing Samuel “Screech” Powers on the beloved coming-of-age comedy series Saved by the Bell, is dead at the age of 44.
Diamond died as a result of complications of stage 4 small cell carcinoma cancer.
“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution,” Diamond’s agent Roger Paul said in a statement.
“Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful,” Paul added.
Diamond made audiences of all ages laugh and smile for years as Screech, a role he originated with the episode Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1989. He portrayed Screech for nearly 13 years, through Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
The Bayside gang went to Las Vegas in 1994 for the two-hour television movie Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. The production was filmed at the Stardust Resort & Casino, which was demolished in 2007. The site is today the home of Resorts World Las Vegas.
In 2019, Diamond was set to box the “angry bagel guy” Chris Morgan in Atlantic City at the Showboat. After Morgan bailed, Diamond went on to fight filmmaker Matt Wolf. Diamond won with a one-punch knockout.
Diamond Career Spirals Downwards
Diamond’s post-Screech life was turbulent. While his former child costars went on to achieve more Hollywood fame and celebrity, Diamond’s career became more of a joke, with many laughing at him, not with him.
Diamond used his notoriety to go from child star to reality star. He appeared on Celebrity Boxing 2, Celebrity Fit Club, Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, and most recently, Celebrity Big Brother.
Diamond also tried his hand at stand-up comedy, and performed in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. As recently as 2016, Diamond headlined five shows at the Sin City Comedy Theatre inside Planet Hollywood.
His stand-up comedy was a far cry from his innocent Screech character, as his jokes featured such topics as senior citizen porn and farts.
“My wife saw him a few years ago in Las Vegas. She said it was awful. Every other word was the f-bomb, and he has turned into a pervert,” read one online review of Diamond’s Las Vegas show.
Diamond’s reputation first took a steep hit when he personally released his own sex tape in 2006, titled Screeched — Saved by the Smell.
In his 2009 memoir, titled Behind the Bell, Diamond claimed to have had sex with more than 2,000 women, one being an NBC exec who was 18 years his senior. Diamond’s former costars disputed much of the book.
Diamond also had a high-profile run-in with the law.
In 2014, Diamond was arrested in Wisconsin for possession of a switchblade knife that he allegedly used in a bar altercation in which a man was stabbed. Diamond was convicted of two misdemeanors and sentenced to four months in prison.
Celebrities Pay Tribute
Diamond was upset when he was not invited to participate in the Saved by the Bell 2020 reboot. While Mark-Paul Gosselaar resurrected Zack Morris, Mario Lopez brought back A.C. Slater, Tiffani Thiessen returned as Kelly Morris, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren as Jessie Spano, and Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Diamond and Screech were not welcomed.
Out of all the cast members, I was in the most episodes,” Diamond declared last year. “How do you have ‘Saved by the Bell‘ without Screech?”
Diamond’s turbulent career, sex tape, legal troubles, and tell-all book likely played a role in NBC deciding not to ask for Screech’s involvement. Diamond’s agent said today “he was not intentionally malevolent.”
Though his former costars might have had their differences in their adult lives, they are remembering Diamond fondly in the wake of his death.
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade.
— Mark-Paul Gosselaar (@MPG) February 1, 2021
“Dustin, you will be missed, my man,” said Lopez. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted.”
Tiffani Thiessen tweeted a rather similar statement. “Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted.”