By: Jesse Striewski
Just a few short weeks after originally announcing his battle with stage four small cell carcinoma/lung cancer, Dustin Diamond, who will forever be remembered for portraying Samuel “Screech” Powers on the late ’80s/early ’90s hit teen TV show Saved by the Bell and it’s numerous spin-offs, has passed away. He was just 44 years old.
Diamond was born in San Jose, CA on January 7, 1977, and began acting in 1987. After appearing in a few bit roles, including the 1988 feature film Purple People Eater, Diamond landed the role (that would forever change his life) of Screech on the Disney Channel-produced Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1988, which would eventually be retooled as Saved by the Bell just one year later. The show would last until 1993, and get its first spin-off, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, that very same year. While The College Years was short-lived (it ran for only one year), Diamond would reprise the role of Screech once more in Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which ran for seven additional seasons on NBC.
Since playing Screech, Diamond has appeared as himself numerous times over the years, in such films as 2003’s Pauly Shore is Dead, as well as on reality series’ such as Celebrity Big Brother in 2013. Other notable roles throughout his career include multiple appearances on the hit show The Wonder Years, and a brief part in the 1989 Tony Danza film She’s Out of Control.
Diamond’s agent, Roger Paul, revealed to news outlets earlier today that he had passed away in an unannounced Florida hospital with his father by his side. Paul confirmed in a statement; “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.”
Dan Block, a marketing agent for Insurance King who collaborated with Diamond several times on multiple commercials since 2017, tells Rewind It Magazine he has been building a new model from the ground up of Screech’s robot Kevin (dubbed KEV3000) from the original show, which he had planned on using in future commercials with Diamond. “Dustin called him Kevin 2.0,” he tells me. “He wanted to take it to comic cons and stuff.” He continues; “I’m still going to do the ads, but with Dustin’s dad Mark instead hopefully (who played the chemistry teacher in Saved By The Bell). We haven’t signed anything yet, but figured I’d get the robot done first, then take it from there.” Once completed, Block’s creation will no doubt help keep Diamond’s memory alive for future generations to come (see photo below).
For those of us who watched for years as Diamond quite literally grew up on the small screen as one of America’s favorite nerds as Screech (perhaps behind only Jaleel White’s Steve Urkel character on Family Matters) this is a sad day indeed. But Diamond’s memory will forever live on, each time a re-run of Saved by the Bell is aired in syndication, whether it’s being viewed simply out of nostalgia by the show’s original fans, or being introduced to new generations for the first time to new ones, Screech will always be there, somewhere. Rest in power, Mr. Powers.