Saved by the Bell star Dustin Diamond dies at 44
"We are saddened to confirm Dustin Diamond's passing on Monday, February 1st, 2021 due to carcinoma," a rep from Diamond's team confirms to EW. "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 is best known for playing nerdy sidekick Screech Powers in the original incarnation of Saved by the Bell, continuing the role in Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. Diamond then spent the 2000s picking up credits for independent films and playing himself in movies like Pauly Shore Is Dead and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. The actor subsequently published a tell-all, Behind the Bell, which he would later claim was ghostwritten, and ran into personal problems in recent years, culminating in a short prison sentence.
Unlike several of his castmates, Diamond was not part of Peacock's recent Saved by the Bell revival series. The show explained his character's absence by saying Screech was living "on the International Space Station" with his robot Kevin. Prior to his death, the actor's rep told EW that Diamond was in "talks" to reprise the role of Screech if the revival returned for another season. Peacock confirmed the show was renewed for a second season on Jan. 19, just days after Diamond's hospitalization.
Several of Diamond's Saved by the Bell costars paid tribute to the late actor after news of his death on Monday. "I'm deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius," Mark-Paul Gosselaar, said in a statement shared with EW. "My sincere condolences to his family and friends. Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade."