Dustin Diamond, the former child star best known for playing Samuel “Screech” Powers on NBC’s Saved by the Bell has died. He was 44.
The actor passed away Monday morning in a Florida hospital after battling cancer, his agent Roger Paul told the Los Angeles Times. Paul said arrangements were being made to move Diamond to hospice care when died.
News reports emerged on Jan. 14, saying Diamond had Stage 4 cancer and was undergoing treatment. The actor realized something was wrong when he found “a huge lump on his throat,” a rep said at the time.
Diamond rose to stardom in the 1990s while playing nerdy sidekick Screech in the original version of Saved by the Bell.
His former Saved by the Bell co-stars paid tribute to the late actor Monday on social media.
“Dustin, you will be missed my man. The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on…” Mario Lopez tweeted.
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius,” tweeted Mark-Paul Gosselaar. “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.”
NBC’s Peacock streaming service brought the series back for a revival last year, however, Diamond was the only original member of the cast not to return.
After the original sitcom ended, Diamond was involved in a string of scandals, including being jailed for a bar fight in Wisconsin and appearing in a 2006 sex tape titled “Screeched.” In 2020, he faced foreclosure on his Wisconsin home.
Born in San Jose, Calif. in 1977, Diamond began landing TV roles when he was just 10 years old. But like so many other child stars, he had a difficult time adjusting to adulthood.
“The hardest thing about being a child star is giving up your childhood,” he said in 2013 on Oprah: Where Are They Now? “You don’t get a childhood, really. You’re a professional and you got to know your lines and rehearse and practice. It was making sure that you were the funniest and the best that you can be because if you weren’t funny, you could be replaced.”