Dustin Diamond, famous for playing the character of Screech on the hit comedy "Saved by the Bell" and its subsequent spinoff, has died after a three-week battle with cancer.
Diamond's manager, Roger Paul, confirmed to Oxygen.com on Monday that the actor died from stage four cancer earlier today.
“It’s unfortunate,” Paul said by phone. “It went a lot faster than we expected. We thought we had more time.”
Diamond, 44, was diagnosed with cancer just 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,” Paul noted in a statement. “Dustin did not suffer. He did not have to lie submerged in pain. For that, we are grateful.”
Diamond rose to fame playing Samuel "Screech" Powers on the original run of the popular high school sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” which aired from 1989 to 1993. He then starred in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” from 1994 to 2000. The show’s classic episodes are still available for streaming, and Paul told Oxygen.com by phone that his former client’s fan base was always growing.
“He was an icon who touched a lot of people’s lives and who continued to touch people’s lives through the reruns,” he said. “It’s very, very sad.”
Another sequel to the high school comedy was launched on Peacock in the fall featuring most original cast members. But Diamond's Screech, the lovable class nerd, was not included.
Following “Saved by the Bell,” Diamond was featured on reality shows "Celebrity Fit Club," “Celebrity Big Brother,” "Celebrity Boxing 2" and "Celebrity Championship Wrestling." He also did some voice acting work on the animated series “Robot Chicken” and “Tom Goes to the Mayor.”
The actor was arrested in Wisconsin in 2014 after he pulled a switchblade out during a Christmas bar fight, which resulted in the stabbing of a man, the Associated Press reported at the time. Diamond and his then-fiancée Amanda Schutz got into a fight with the stabbing victim, another man, and a woman. The actor reportedly told investigators that he had stabbed the man, who was not seriously injured when he was stabbed in the armpit, by accident.
As a result, Diamond was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct and sentenced to four months in jail in 2015. He served three of those months and was released, but was re-arrested in 2016 after violating his probation terms, CNN reported. Schutz was also found guilty of disorderly conduct for the incident and fined $500.
The star was also thrust into the spotlight after he was sued, several times, for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings. He stirred controversy when a sex tape purportedly featuring him was released in 2006, and again with his 2009 book "Behind the Bell," in which he shared unflattering behind-the-scenes stories from the set of “Saved by the Bell.”
“We are aware that Dustin is not considered reputable by most,” Paul wrote in his statement. “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 [sic], 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.”
Paul added that Diamond was "an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored."
Diamond's "Save by the Bell" costar Tiffani Thiessen paid tribute to him on Instagram on Monday, writing, “Life is extremely fragile and it's something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin."
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