Fans and celebrities alike are paying tribute to Dustin Diamond. Diamond died Monday morning, just three weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, with loved ones by his side. He was 44. News of his death immediately sparked an outpouring of tributes to the late actor on social media, with Peacock, NBC Universal's streaming service, which is home to the Saved By the Bell reboot, paying their respects Tuesday morning. While Diamond did not return for the reboot, Peacock said in a statement issued to the Today show, "he will always be part of the Bayside family."
Diamond was one of six core members of Saved By the Bell, the hit teen sitcom that ran from 1989 until 1992. He portrayed the school geek, Samuel "Screech" Powers, a role he reprised in the spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The College Years (1993-1994) and Saved by the Bell: The New Class (1994-2000), as well as two spinoff movies, Hawaiian Style (1992) and Wedding in Las Vegas (1994). Diamond did not, however, reprise the role for Peacock's reboot, which brought back most of the main cast, including Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Lark Voorhies, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Speaking with Variety just hours after his co-star's death, Lopez expressed remorse over the fact that Diamond never had the opportunity to make an appearance on the series, which did briefly mention him.
"We were really hoping he’d make an appearance on Season 2," Lopez told the outlet. "Now I'm really going to push for some sort of tribute. I would love a whole episode dedicated to some of his most iconic moments or something like that. We have a lot of very creative minds who can try to figure it out, but I haven't had those conversations yet."
Lopez also opened up about their time on the original series, reflecting on the summertime shoots and the "juvenile, silly, fun antics stuff" they'd get into. He said he though Diamond "was a funny kid," adding, "I liked to have fun and he was like my side-kick." Lopez also reflected on Diamond's comedy chops and how integral a part of the cast he was.
"He was iconic. In general, his little looks and facial expressions and voice and the way it cracked, it was just the quintessential goofy, lovable fun nerd [character] and it really resonated with the kids. And that was all him; he was kind of like Screech in real life," he said. "He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don’t know if it would have worked without him."
Diamond had been hospitalized in mid-January after discovering a bump on his neck and experiencing pain throughout his body. A series of tests and a biopsy led to a stage 4 small cell carcinoma diagnosis. He completed his first round of chemo just a week before he died. He was 44.