Saved By The Bell actor Dustin Diamond has died aged 44 three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, his representative said.
Diamond, who played Samuel “Screech” Powers on the popular comedy, was taken to hospital in Florida last month after falling ill.
His death was announced on Monday by Roger Paul, his representative, who said the cause of death was carcinoma.
Mr Paul said: “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.”
He described Diamond – best known for playing Screech, the nerdy sidekick in Saved By The Bell from 1989-1993 – as “a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored”.
He added: “We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did.
“We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr Diamond’s family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden.”
Diamond’s Saved By The Bell co-stars were among those paying tribute.
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… pic.twitter.com/BnxY9XgN5g
— Mario Lopez (@mariolopezviva) February 1, 2021
Mario Lopez, who played AC Slater, shared a picture of the pair together and said: “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…”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar played Zack Morris, and said he was “deeply saddened” by Diamond’s death, describing him as “a true comedic genius”.
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
He said: “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.”
Tiffani Thiessen played Kelly Kapowski in the 1990s comedy.
She said: “I am deeply saddened by I the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
Diamond reprised the role of Screech in follow-up series Saved By The Bell: The New Class and Saved By The Bell: The College Years.
However, Diamond did not appear in the recent revival series which starred several of the show’s original stars.
He was a contestant on the 12th series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2013, and was evicted on day 16.
Diamond encountered financial trouble during his career and filed for bankruptcy in 2001. He later launched an elaborate crowdfunding bid to save his house, selling T-shirts with his face on to raise 250,000 dollars (£182,000).
The back of the T-shirts read “I paid 15.00 dollars to save Screeech’s house”. The extra ‘e’ was reportedly added to avoid breaching copyright laws.
Diamond was sentenced to four months in jail after stabbing a man during a Christmas Day bar brawl in Wisconsin in 2014.
Mr Paul said “we are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most”.
He added: “He’s had a history of mishaps, of unfortunate events. We want the public to understand that he was not intentionally malevolent. He -much like the rest of those who act out and behave poorly – had undergone a great deal of turmoil and heartache.”