Diamond died after an aggressive battle with Stage 4 lung cancer. In the wake of his passing, former costar Mark-Paul Gosselaar issued the following statement to TVLine:
I’m 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.
Mario Lopez also weighed in via social media. “Dustin, you will be missed my man,” he said. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on.”
Added Tiffani Thiessen, “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.”
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren also shared a special tribute on Instagram, writing, “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 paid tribute on Tuesday. “Words cannot express the grief that I am feeling right now,” she wrote. “Dustin and I had a warm and special friendship, he was a caring gentleman, and my memories of him will always be cherished. I am so very sorry he is gone. But it’s exceptionally sad for his close loved ones who have to deal with his tragic death and their own great loss. My heart goes out to them at this trying time.”
Saved by the Bell executive producer Peter Engel released a statement to Us Weekly, which read in part, “It’s a sad, sad day… He was a comedy genius.”
Diamond appeared in 248 episodes of the SBTB franchise, having originated the character in the short-lived Disney Channel series Good Morning, Miss Bliss. As one of only four cast members to make the leap to NBC’s Saved by the Bell, he continued to portray Screech in the spinoffs The College Years and The New Class. He also appeared in both made-for-TV movies, Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style and Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.
Saved by the Bell was recently revived (and renewed) by Peacock, albeit, without Diamond. Bell 2.0 explained Screech’s absence by telling viewers he was living on the International Space Station with his robot Kevin.
UPDATE: In an interview with Tamron Hall on Tuesday, Gosselaar acknowledged Diamond’s passing, saying, “It’s always tough when someone passes away. I think it’s even more so when the individual is someone you know, and the age of Dustin. It was only a few weeks ago that we heard about his diagnosis, and for it to happen so quickly is shocking. Myself and the rest of the [Saved by the Bell] cast… will get together at some point and express our feelings.”