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Saved by the Bell’s Screech Dead at 44

Just 18 days after the announcement that Dustin Diamond had been diagnosed with small-cell lung carcinoma, the Saved by the Bell actor died. He was 44.

“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of cancer only three weeks ago,” the actor’s agent, Roger Paul, said in a statement. “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.

“Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored,” Paul added. “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.”

According to the American Cancer Society, about 15% of all lung cancers are small-cell lung carcinoma. This type of cancer grows and spreads quickly; about 70% of people with SCLC will have cancer that has already spread at the time they are diagnosed.

Small-cell lung carcinoma symptoms may include:

  • bloody mucus from the lungs
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • facial swelling
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • persistent cough or hoarseness
  • shortness of breath
  • weight loss
  • wheezing

Diamond’s best-known role was Samuel “Screech” Powers, the lovable nerd who was part of Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell through Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Born Jan. 7, 1977, in San Jose, Calif., Diamond had 51 credits on his résumé. His big-screen turns included Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, American Pie Presents: The Book of Love, and Minor League: A Football Story. He landed the role of Screech at 11 years old.

‘A humorous and high-spirited individual’

Screech will be remembered as Bayside High’s go-to for guffaws alongside Zack Morris, A.C. Slater, Lisa Turtle, Kelly Kapowski, and Jessie Spano.

After the Saved by the Bell run, Diamond appeared in Screeched – Saved by the Smell, an infamous 2006 sex tape.

In a 2013 episode of Where Are They Now? Diamond told Oprah Winfrey he was embarrassed by the tape.

“Looking back now in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb,” Diamond said. “People to this day look down on me. There’s a lot of people [who think], ‘How disgusting of you’ – and I didn’t really do it.” He claimed a “stunt double” was used for the sex scenes.

Diamond served three months in prison in 2015 for stabbing a man during a bar fight. He was arrested again in May 2016 for violating the terms of his probation.

“We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most,” Paul’s statement said. “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. His actions, though rebukeable, stemmed from loss and the lack of knowledge on how to process that pain properly.

“In actuality, Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh. He was able to sense and feel other peoples’ emotions to such a length that he was able to feel them too – a strength and a flaw, all in one.”