Dustin Diamond, known for playing the lovable geek Samuel “Screech” Powers on the hit sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” died due to carcinoma on Monday morning in a Florida hospital. He was 44.
The actor was diagnosed with the cancer and hospitalized just 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,” the actor’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.”
Diamond got his start in the industry with roles in the TV movie “Yogi’s Great Escape” and an episode of “It’s a Living” in 1987, and nabbed his breakout role just one year later. Cast in “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” the actor portrayed Screech for 13 episodes. The show would go on to be the basis for “Saved by the Bell,” which Diamond acted in until 1992.
As his character aged out of high school, Diamond continued to reprise his role for the franchise in various spinoffs, including “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” and “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” the latter of which he starred in for about six years.
The star also appeared as himself in a variety of shows and films following his stint as Screech, among these being “Made,” “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” “Four Corners Road,” “American Pie Presents: The Book of Love” and his infamous 2006 sex tape “Screeched — Saved by the Smell.”
Diamond told Oprah Winfrey in a 2013 episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” that he was embarrassed by the tape and that the paycheck “wasn’t worth what the fallout was.”
“Looking back now in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb,” he said. “People to this day look down on me. There’s a lot of people [who think] ‘how disgusting of you’ — and I didn’t really do it.”
He also had stints on reality TV, including “Celebrity Big Brother,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Weakest Link” and “Celebrity Boxing 2.” Diamond wrote a memoir about his time with the “Saved by the Bell” franchise. Titled “Behind the Bell,” the book recounts alleged controversies related to cast members, including himself.
Diamond was married to Jennifer Misner from 2009 until their separation in 2013.
Diamond was arrested in 2014 and served three months in prison in 2015 for stabbing a man during a bar fight. He was arrested again in May 2016 for violating the terms of his probation.
“We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most. He’s had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent,” Paul said. “He — much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly — had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. In actuality, 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.”