Saved by the Bell cast pay tribute to their late co-star Dustin Diamond

Dustin Diamond died Monday morning after a recent lung cancer diagnosis

Saved by the Bell cast pay tribute to their late co-star Dustin Diamond

Dustin Diamond, who rose to fame for his portrayal of Screech in the original Saved by the Bell series, passed away Monday morning, weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was 44.

“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago,” said Roger Paul, Diamond’s longtime manager, 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.”

Paul went on to reveal that Diamond’s condition “had greatly declined since last week, and he was taken off of breathing machines in an attempt to get him to hospice care.” Paul said Diamond’s girlfriend, Tash Jules, and a good friend were by the actor’s side when he died.

Paul first revealed Diamond’s cancer diagnosis last January, noting that Dustin was awaiting test results to learn the exact location and nature of the cancer. A week later, Paul said that Diamond was battling stage 4 small cell carcinoma, also known as lung cancer.

Shortly after the news of Diamond’s death broke, some of the members of the original Saved by the Bell cast took to social media to remember the late actor.

In a tweet, Mark-Paul Gosselaar called Diamond “a true comedic genius,” while Tiffani Thiessen wrote on Instagram that she’s “deeply saddened” by the passing of her “old friend.”

 

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Mario Lopez paid tribute to Diamond by sharing some photos with him on Instagram. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted,” Lopez wrote.

 

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Elizabeth Berkley, meanwhile, wrote in an Instagram post that she’s “grateful to have gotten to create with Dustin” when they were both at the beginning of their dreams coming true.

Calling Diamond her “1st onscreen love,” Tori Spelling recalled the time the late actor welcomed her on the set of Saved by the Bell with open arms. “He not only showed me around but made sure I was always ok,” Spelling wrote of Diamond on Instagram. “Such a young gentleman. He was kind, smart, and always making everyone laugh. He was a great scene partner. He was a really good guy.”

 

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When Diamond’s cancer diagnosis was revealed in January, Lark Voorhies was one of the first Saved by the Bell cast members to take to social media to wish him well. “Dustin, all the many in your close circle who know you to be the great person that you are, are truly pulling for you and praying for the best outcome,” she wrote on Instagram at that time.

After starring in Saved by the Bell, Dustin appeared in a number of reality shows including Celebrity Big Brother, Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Boxing 2, and Celebrity Championship Wrestling. Some of Dustin’s co-stars from these shows also took to social media to remember him.

Unlike most of the original Saved by the Bell cast members, Diamond was not part of Peacock’s reboot of the sitcom. But in The Todd Capsule episode of the show’s first season, it was revealed Screech was now living aboard the International Space Station.

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In an interview with TMZ last February, Diamond said he hoped to reprise his role as Screech in the reboot. “I think that right now Screech would be dealing with parenthood and dealing with his kids, and finding out he’s got a little Screech of his own now,” Diamond said of his idea on what Screech’s storyline should be in the reboot. “And that maybe he wasn’t a barrel full of roses to deal with growing up, and realizing ‘Was I ever this difficult?’”

While it’s not clear why Diamond was not reunited with the other original Saved by the Bell cast for the reboot, it might have something to do with his controversial 2009 book Behind the Bell, which portrayed the cast in a less-than-flattering light.

Diamond also served three months in jail for his role in a fight at a Wisconsin bar in 2014, in which he stabbed another bar patron in the armpit with a switchblade.

Despite all these, Paul and the rest of Dustin’s management team maintain that the late actor was a good person.

“We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most. He’s had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events,” Paul continued in his statement. “His actions, though rebukable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly. 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. We wish you knew him in the way that we did.”

Sources: CNN, ComicBook.com, Entertainment Tonight, NBC News