Dustin Diamond, Actor on ‘Saved by the Bell,’ Dies at 44


Dustin Diamond, the former child actor who found fame on the enduring NBC Saturday-morning sitcom “Saved by the Bell” but struggled to find work in later years, died on Monday at in Florida. He was 44.

A representative for Mr. Diamond, Roger Paul, confirmed the death. He said that the cause was carcinoma and that Mr. Diamond died in a hospital.

After Mr. Diamond went “through some medical testing,” in January, his representatives said in a statement that he had cancer.

From 1989 to 1992, Mr. Diamond played Samuel “Screech” Powers on “Saved by the Bell,” which developed a cult following among millennials and members of Generation X and grew into an internet obsession for some fans.

The show followed the day-to-day adventures of a group of loudly dressed friends at the fictional Bayside High School in California.

Saturday morning viewers watched Mr. Diamond grow up on the show as he played Screech, the sweet-natured, geeky underdog and the dunce among his friends. An ongoing plotline was the character’s unrequited crush on Lisa Turtle, who was played by Lark Voorhies.

Screech was also the comedic sidekick to Zack Morris, the popular student who was played Mark-Paul Gosselaar. The show’s cast also included Mario Lopez as Slater, Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie and Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly, who rounded out the circle of friends.

The show also starred Dennis Haskins as the school principal who mentored and disciplined the group. Mr. Diamond appeared in all 86 episodes.

Memorable plot lines included a caffeine pill addiction by Ms. Berkley’s character, the friends competing in a dance competition hosted by the radio disc jockey Casey Kasem and when “Screech” is asked to make fake IDs so the guys could go to a club.

Mr. Diamond was born on Jan. 7, 1977, in San Jose, Calif., according to IMDB.com, and he said he began acting when he was 8. He also appeared in other series, including “The Wonder Years.”

He originated the role of Screech in 1988 when he was cast in “Good Morning Miss Bliss,” the Disney Channel series that was the forerunner to “Saved by the Bell” and introduced many of its characters.

After “Saved by the Bell” ended in 1992, a spinoff show called “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” followed the gang in college. That show ran for one season, ending in 1994. From 1994 to 2000, he reprised the role of Screech in another spinoff series, “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.”

After the series ended, Mr. Diamond became known for post-stardom troubles, and spoke openly about his struggles finding work.

“The hardest thing about being a child star is giving up your childhood,” Mr. Diamond said in 2013 on “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” While he was working on “Saved by the Bell,” he said, he feared being replaced, saying, “You don’t get a childhood, really.”

After the series ended, he said: “I didn’t really know what I was going to do. It was hard to get work that wasn’t Screech-cloned stuff.”


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