'Saved By The Bell' stars lead tributes to Dustin Diamond after death from cancer aged 44

Watch: Dustin Diamond dies aged 44

Dustin Diamond has been fondly remembered by his Saved by the Bell co-stars, following his death at the age of 44.

The actor – best known for his role as Screech on US high school sitcom – has passed away following a short battle with stage 4 lung cancer.

Actor and TV presenter Mario Lopez, who made his name playing AC Slater in the hit 90s show, posted on Instagram: “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...”

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 16:  Dustin Diamond visits "Extra" at Universal Studios Hollywood on May 16, 2016 in Universal City, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Dustin Diamond has died aged 44. (Getty Images)

Tori Spelling, who played Screech’s love interest on the show, made a heartfelt tribute, writing: “My 1st onscreen love Dustin Diamond got his Angel wings today...

“Before there was [Beverly Hills, 90210’s] David and Donna there was Screech and Violet. Dustin was my first on-screen kiss. He welcomed me with open arms onto the set of Saved By the Bell. As one can imagine being the newbie on a hit show was overwhelming for a 14-year-old girl. He not only showed me around but made sure I was always ok.

“Such a young gentleman. He was kind, smart, and always making everyone laugh. He was a great scene partner. He was a really good guy. I’m sad after the show we never had much contact aside from occasionally running into each other at events. I’m glad he’s out of pain. He’s an icon to me professionally and personally. RIP Samuel love, your Violet.”

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris in the hit sitcom, tweeted: “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.”

Tiffani Thiessen, who played Saved By The Bell’s Kelly Kapowski wrote: “I am deeply saddened by 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.”

And Elizabeth Berkley, who played Jessie Spano, said: “I’m grateful to have gotten to create with Dustin when we were at the beginning of our dreams coming true. I will hold onto those sweet memories and the laughs we shared. Rest In Peace.”

Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa Turtle, posted: “I’d like to take the time to send special love and special best wishes to Dustin Diamond, who is one of my dearest friends. Dustin, all the many in your close circle who know you to be the great person that you are, are truly pulling for you and praying for the best outcome.”

Read more: Dustin Diamond completes first round of chemo

A representative for Diamond announced his death on Monday, saying: “We are saddened to confirm of Dustin Diamond’s passing due to carcinoma.

Dustin Diamond (PA)
Dustin Diamond took part in the UK's Celebrity Big Brother in 2013. (PA)

“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.”

The actor and reality TV star was admitted to hospital in Florida on 15th January to determine the type and severity of the cancer. It was revealed he been diagnosed with stage four cancer after finding a lump in his throat.

Diamond was a child actor and began playing Samuel Screech Powers in Saved By The Bell in 1988, a role he continued to play for 13 years, including in Saved by the Bell: The New Class which ran from 1994 to 2000.

In 2006 he directed and released his own sex tape, which he later admitted featured a stunt double.

He went on to appear in a string of reality shows including Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Boxing 2 and Celebrity Championship Wrestling. In 2013 he took part in the UK’s 12th series of Celebrity Big Brother, which was won by Charlotte Crosby and included Carol McGiffin, Mario Falcone and Abz Love from 5ive among the line-up.

SAVED BY THE BELL -- Season 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski, Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater, Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle, Dustin DIamond as Screech Powers, .Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris, Eliszabeth Berkeley as Jessie Spano -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
Saved By The Bell season one cast Tiffani Thiessen, Mario Lopez, Lark Voorhies, Dustin DIamond, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Elizabeth Berkeley. (Getty Images.)

He played Screech one final time in 2018 the web-series Zack Morris Is Trash.

But he was not invited to be a part of the Saved By The Bell reboot which began last year, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar returning as Zack Morris. The revival series explained Screech’s absence by telling viewers he was living on the International Space Station with his robot Kevin.

Read more: Mark-Paul Gosselaar transforms back into Zack Morris for ‘Saved by the Bell’ reboot

Diamond tod TMZ last year: “How can you have Saved By The Bell without Screech? I think everyone should probably be thinking the same thing. In all seriousness, I think Screech would be dealing with parenthood and his kids... and realising ‘Was I ever this difficult?’”

Television actor Dustin Diamond, center, exits the courtroom in Port Washington, Wis., Friday night, May 29, 2015, after a 12-person jury convicted him of two misdemeanors stemming from a barroom fight, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former "Saved by the Bell" actor of the most serious felony charge. (AP Photo/Dana Ferguson)
Dustin Diamond was convicted of two misdemeanours stemming from a barroom fight in 2014. (AP)

In October 2020 a representative for Diamond was forced to deny a story that went viral on the internet, claiming the actor had died in a prison riot.

Diamond has previously been in jail – in 2014 he was sentenced to four months for his part in a stabbing during a Christmas Day altercation at a bar.

Watch: The Saved by the Bell Cast Paid Tribute to Dustin Diamond Following His Death