‘Saved By The Bell’ Star Dustin Diamond Is Dead At 44

Dustin Diamond, best known for playing Samuel “Screech” Powers on NBC’s Saved by the Bell, died on Monday from stage 4 lung cancer. He was 44. “He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago,” his spokesperson said in a statement. “In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”

Born in San Jose, California, Diamond was 11 years old when he was cast as Screech on Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the forerunner to Saved by the Bell. He would continue to play the character, one of TV’s quintessential nerds, for over a decade, including in Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas, and Saved by the Bell: The New Class (he did not appear in the well-received Peacock revival). Diamond also published a tell-all book, Behind the Bell, that soured his relationship with his co-stars; he apologized in 2016.

In the ensuing years, Diamond began a new career as a stand-up comic; beat up a much older Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack of Welcome Back, Kotter) on Celebrity Boxing 2; shed some pounds on Celebrity Fit Club; entered the ring with Dennis Rodman and Frank Stallone on Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling; and appeared on World’s Dumbest and Celebrity Big Brother… In 2015, Diamond was convicted of disorderly conduct after he stabbed another bar patron in the armpit with a switchblade on Christmas Day 2014 in an incident involving his then-fiancee. He served three months in jail before being released in April 2016.

Diamond’s rep called him “a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored… We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond’s family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden.”

(Via NBC News and the Hollywood Reporter)