Dustin Diamond, who rose to fame playing Screech in 1990’s Saved by the Bell, died Monday after a recent cancer diagnosis. He was 44.
He shared the news of his cancer diagnosis last month; at the time, his manager Roger Paul said the situation was “serious.”
“We are saddened to confirm Dustin Diamond’s passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma. He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only 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. Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful,” Diamond’s rep, Roger Paul, confirmed to Us Weekly on Monday, mourning the actor who had become “a part of our family and friend circle.”
The statement continued: “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. “Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored. We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. 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.”
Diamond has had his share of public ups and downs, and in 2009, he released Behind the Bell, which created controversy with less than flattering tales about his costars. He also had legal tussles, serving three months in jail for stabbing a man during a bar fight in Wisconsin.
When Saved by the Bell was rebooted by Peacock, all of the stars were asked to return, but Diamond was not.
In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Dustin reflected on his ups and down saying, “I felt lost. As I mature I realize 'Wow, I was kind of going through my rebellious teens in my twenties.' The sex tape is the thing I am most embarrassed about. My buddy was at my house and the rumor I think that had been put on TV was that Paris Hilton had made 14 million dollars off this sex tape. And My buddy said, '14 million? Holy smokes! Where is the Screech sex tape? You gotta be worth at least a million!' and I thought 'Yeah…yeah, maybe!' and that's as simple as it was. And in my stupidity I thought, 'You know, I could totally fake this. I can get a stunt person to take my place.' It's my face but nothing else. Looking back now in my thirties I realize that was really dumb. I definitely got some money off of it but it wasn't worth what the fallout was. People to this day look down on me. A lot of people are like 'Oh, how disgusting of you!' and I didn't really do it.” :63 (OC:…really do it)
In 2018, he appeared as Screech in the Funny or Die series, Zach Morris Is Trash. Fans on Twitter immediately shared their grief at the “very sad news.”
Diamond’s Saved by the Bell co-stars, Mario Lopez and Tiffani Thiessen, expressed sadness, both noting how fragile life is.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris in the coming-of-age sitcom, called Diamond “a true comedic genius.”