‘Saved by the Bell’: A Look Back at Dustin Diamond’s Life and Career

Saved by the Bell star Dustin Diamond died on February 1, 2021, at the age of 44. Here’s a look at his life and career.

Dustin Diamond as Screech on ‘Saved by the Bell’

Dustin Diamond and Tori Spelling | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Dustin Diamond and Tori Spelling | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Diamond is best known for playing Screech on Saved by the Bell. He was the nerdy sidekick to Bayside High School classmates Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Lisa (Lark Vorhees), Jesse (Elizabeth Berkley), and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez).

Although viewers were entertained by Screech, Diamond found it tough to shake his nerdy image. During an interview on OWN, the actor said securing roles that were different from the one he played on the teen comedy was hard. He told Extra host Mario Lopez he would sometimes get rejected during auditions because casting directors couldn’t see beyond his Saved by the Bell character.   

Diamond had a hard time adjusting to life after the show. In his OWN interview, he says he didn’t know what to do next with his life. After taking time off, he appeared in a few movies and TV shows. In 2006, he released a sex tape. In 2009, he released a tell-all book titled Behind the Bell.

 “I felt lost,” said Diamond. “As I mature, I realize I was kind of going through my rebellious teens in my 20s.”

Dustin Diamond’s movies and TV shows

One of Diamond’s early acting roles was in the 1987 TV movie Yogi’s Great Escape. He lent his talent as a voice actor. That same year, Diamond appeared in an episode of It’s a Living titled “The Sonny’s Mother Show.” Dustin made his film debut in the 1988 movie Big Top Pee-wee, in which he played Deke.

Diamond got his big break after joining the cast of Saved by the Bell in 1989. He played the character Samuel “Screech” Powers until 1992. The following year, he starred in Saved by the Bell: The College Years, which ran until 1994. From 1994 to 2000, Diamond appeared in another spinoff, titled Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Dustin Diamond on the set of 'Saved by the Bell.' | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Dustin Diamond on the set of ‘Saved by the Bell.’ | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

After Saved by the Bell, Diamond appeared in the 2001 movie Long Shot, in which he played a waiter. His other acting roles include appearances in Good Morning, Miss Bliss; Pauly Shore Is Dead; 13th Grade; and Joker’s Wild. Diamond’s final on-screen performance was in a 2020 short film titled Catching Up, in which he played a music teacher.

Dustin Diamond had many regrets about his book and sex tape

During his OWN interview and his interview with Lopez, Diamond expressed some of the regrets he had. He told OWN he regretted his sex tape and tell-all book. He said the tape was his biggest embarrassment.

“Looking back now in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb,” Diamond said in his OWN interview. “I definitely got some money off of it, but it wasn’t worth what the fallout was.” Diamond said people looked down on him after the tape was released. As far as the tell-all, he said the book was a disappointment.

Dustin Diamond’s death

It was announced on January 14, 2021, that Diamond had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. In a statement, his representatives said the actor had been in a lot of pain and was receiving chemotherapy treatments. Almost three weeks after the announcement, Diamond succumbed to the illness.  

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