Some really, really sad news today as Dustin Diamond, best known for playing Samuel “Screech” Powers for four seasons on Saved by the Bell, has died at 44 years old. Variety confirmed the actor passed away from carcinoma, a cancer he was diagnosed with 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,” 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.”
Diamond‘s career started in 1986 with small parts in It’s a Living and Big Top Pee-wee, but it was 1988 that first saw him play the role of loveable loser Screech in 13 episodes of Good Morning, Miss Bliss. The short-lived series would become the basis for Saved by the Bell, which ran for four seasons from 1989 to 1992 and become a cultural touchstone for pretty much any millennial you know. The actor would reprise the role of Screech in both Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class, the latter of which he co-starred in for six years.
The post-Saved by the Bell portion of Diamond‘s career was marked by reality TV stints on shows like Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Boxing 2, as well as controversy, such as a 2014 arrest for allegedly stabbing a man in a bar fight. Diamond released a memoir in 2009 titled Behind the Bell, a tell-all that led to years of estrangement from many of his Saved by the Bell castmates. (Diamond later asked “for forgiveness for any kind of misunderstandings that may have come about by the book” in a 2016 interview with co-star Mario Lopez.)
Continued Paul in his statement:
“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. 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.”
Below, you’ll find a few of the remembrances from cast members that are rolling in right now.