Dustin Diamond, Screech on 'Saved by the Bell,' Dies at 44

Dustin Diamond, who spent 13 seasons as the goofy nerd Screech on the Saturday morning sitcom Saved by the Bell and its various iterations before his life and career took a turn for the worse, died Monday.

When he was 11 and in the fifth grade, Diamond beat out 5,000 other hopefuls in 1988 to land the role of Samuel "Screech" Powers on the Disney Channel comedy Good Morning, Miss Bliss , the forerunner to Saved by the Bell .

When the Peacock streaming service unveiled a follow-up Saved by the Bell series in November, original stars including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez and Tiffani Thiessen were back, but Diamond was not.

After Gosselaar was hired to star as Zack Morris on Good Morning, Miss Bliss , he pushed for the blue-eyed Diamond to get the part of his best friend in junior high, Screech.

As he longed for Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) and shared his first onscreen kiss with Violet Bickerstaff (Tori Spelling), Screech remained at the center of Saved by the Bell and its offshoots as the franchise moved to the fictional schools of Bayside High and California University and then back to Bayside, where Screech was now the assistant to bumbling Principal Belding (Dennis Haskins).

Diamond also showed up on the big screen in Made (2001), Pauly Shore Is Dead (2003), Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), Tetherball: The Movie (2010), All Wifed Out (2012) and College Fright Night (2014) and executive produced a 2014 Lifetime telefilm, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story .

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