“Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond died Monday after a three-week fight with cancer, according to his representative. He was 44.
“Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful,” the actor’s spokesman, Roger Paul, said in a statement.
Diamond, best known for playing the quirky, nerdy Screech on the hit ’90s sitcom, was hospitalized last month in Florida and his team disclosed later that he had cancer. Diamond had carcinoma.
Former co-star Mario Lopez took to Twitter to say farewell: “Dustin, you will be missed, my man. The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted.” Another co-star, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, called Diamond “a true comedic genius,” adding “I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce.”
“Saved by the Bell” aired from 1989 to 1993, and its related shows included “Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” and “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” which Diamond starred in. A sequel was launched on Peacock last fall featuring many from the original cast, including Gosselaar, Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen. Diamond was not included.
“God speed, Dustin,” Thiessen wrote on Instagram. Josh Gad on Twitter said Diamond was “a defining part of our collective pop cultural touchstones.”
He starred in a handful of reality television series including the 5th season of “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Weakest Link” and “Celebrity Boxing 2.” In December 2013, Diamond appeared on an episode of OWN’s “Where Are They Now?” and became a house member in the 12th season of “Celebrity Big Brother.”
Diamond was sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments. He has appeared on reality TV shows, made a sex tape and produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story.” In 2015, he was sentenced to serve four months in jail for his part in a Wisconsin barroom stabbing.
“Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples’ emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too – a strength and a flaw, all in one,” wrote Paul.