‘Saved By The Bell’ Star Dustin Diamond Dead at age 44

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.

Pauly Shore at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort on 1/25/21 By Jesse Striewski (Photos By Brooke Striewski)

I don’t claim to be a huge fan of stand-up comedy by any means, and it’s been well over five years since the last time I willingly went to see a comedian live (and even then, I was there once again for work purposes). But how could my wife/photographer and I not go see the ‘Weasel’ himself, Pauly Shore, where it all began for him so long ago (and on our seventh wedding anniversary, in the same city where it all began for us as well, none the less) in the city of Daytona Beach?!

Presented by Bonkerz Comedy Productions and held at the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort (which coincidentally, is where my wife and I actually ate dinner right before getting engaged years ago, making the evening all the more special for us on a personal level), it was an extremely welcomed relief to a long year lacking an aubundance of laughter (even Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice made his way into the audience last night).

Central, FL local Lou Pharis warmed up the crowd with (literal) enormous enthusiasm. Although towering at an intimidation-level height, he came off as a harmless gentle giant, there to simply win the audience over with laughs not too far off from your common dad jokes (but in a good way).

Kirk Bonacci, who has appeared on such Disney Channel shows as Game On! and The Avatars, used more of a self-depreciating style of comedy, with a slower approach, albeit perfectly timed punchlines. His ability to handle – shall we say – not the most welcomed audience participation from one particular crowd member, was also priceless.

And at last, the mighty Pauly Shore whisked onto the stage to the tune of David Lee Roth’s “Just Like Paradise,” encouraging the crowd to rise and proclaiming it was time to “party!” Once he began, it was nearly impossible not to laugh at every ridiculous thought that flowed from his brain to the microphone. Even the most simple, monotonous lines (I was dead after he stated, “I have to go grocery shopping when I get home”) were enough to bring the audience to its knees.

A good portion of his jokes relied on his age, and analyzing how much things have changed with him (and the world) since his early ’90s, MTV-fueled heyday. And while politics did make their way into the jokes from time to time, it was refreshing for once to hear something that wasn’t just one-sided and simply for the sake of bashing. Shore no doubt seems to still come from the old-school mentality where it’s okay to poke fun of everyone and anyone, regardless of what side of the fence they happen to land on (something sadly missing way too often in many platforms these days).

And of course, there were plenty of quotes from the vault brought out; classic lines like “Weazing the juice” from Encino Man and “Steven Tyler PJ’s” from Son-in-Law are among many that could be heard uttered throughout his set last night. Chances are if you grew up during Shore’s prime of the late ’80s/early ’90s (like I did), his stand up routine will be right up your alley as well; catch him if and when you get the chance (Shore’s next show will actually be at the Orlando Improv tonight).