Some sad news arrived this Monday for any child of the 80s and 90s. Dustin Diamond, the comedian and actor most known for his breakout role as Screech on NBC’s Saved by the Bell, has passed away at the age of just 44. Diamond checked into hospital only three weeks ago with suspected lung cancer, and it’s now been confirmed by his representatives that the illness was too advanced to be treated and he lost his battle this February 1st.
As the high school sitcom is fondly remembered by millions, the internet has been full of reactions from those heartbroken to discover the news. At the time of writing, three of Diamond’s Saved by the Bell co-stars have likewise responded to his death on social media. First of all, Mario Lopez – who played A.C. Slater in the series, the original run of which lasted from 1989-93 – took to Instagram to share a few pictures of himself with Diamond over the years.
“Dustin, you will be missed my man,” Lopez wrote in his caption. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on…”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar – protagonist and Screech’s best friend Zack Morris – posted a message of condolence on Twitter as well in which he reflected on Diamond’s talents. Calling him “a true comedic genius,” he added: “Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce.”
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. 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.
— Mark-Paul Gosselaar (@MPG) February 1, 2021
Meanwhile, Tiffani Thiessen – Zack’s love interest Kelly Kapowski – shared a photo of Diamond on Instagram and wrote a message, with similar wording to Lopez’s, in the caption. “I am deeply saddened by the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing,” the actress said. “Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
Gosselaar, Lopez and Thiessen, along with Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, all reprise their roles in Peacock’s Saved by the Bell revival, which debuted its first season last fall. Screech was referenced in the new series, with a joke in one episode revealing he now lived on the International Space Station. In February last year, Diamond noted in an interview that he hoped to be invited back so that he could portray an older, wiser Screech who had become a father and given that a second season is on the way, hopefully some tribute will be made to the actor in the new episodes.