Diamond’s cause of death stemmed from a stage 4 cancer diagnosis made public on January 14. In an article published earlier on Monday by The Sun, Diamond’s friend Dan Block said, “We do not have any specific timelines, but we know that Dustin needs a miracle to overcome the small cell carcinoma he’s been diagnosed with.
“He was told weeks to five months is the average but a small percentage of people have lived one to two years with it being stage 4,” Block continued. “We are hoping that he is one of the people to outlive the odds and that we get as much time with him as possible.”
Block told The Sun that Diamond finally went to the hospital after a lump had been growing on his neck for some time, but the former actor didn’t want to seek treatment out of fear he would be recognized and made fun of. “It was a huge, huge lump in his throat. It was very big,” Block said.
A representative for the actor told TMZ that Diamond’s girlfriend was with him when he died on Monday morning. “His condition had greatly declined since last week,” TMZ reported, and he was removed from breathing machines to transition to hospice care after his cancer had metastasized in his lungs.
“He was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago,” Diamond’s reps shared in a statement on Facebook. “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.”
Diamond is preceded in death by his mother, who died of breast cancer. He was previously engaged to Amanda Schutz, but the two never married. In 2009, he married longtime girlfriend Jennifer Misner. However, the couple separated in 2013, as reported by The Sun.
Former Saved By the Bell co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar tweeted on Monday, “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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Dustin Diamond:
1. Diamond Wanted to Spend His Remaining Time With His Girlfriend
On January 12, TMZ reported that Diamond, who was born on January 7, 1977, in San Jose, California, had been hospitalized in Florida after feeling “pain all over his body,” which doctors later discovered was terminal cancer.
On January 21, Diamond completed his first round of chemotherapy, CNN reported, and another round was already scheduled.
Roger Paul, Diamond’s representative, told CNN, “Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media.”
2. Diamond’s Friend Revealed the Actor Had 2 Dying Wishes
Block told The Sun of Diamond’s dying wishes. “There are two things Dustin asked for,” he said, “the ability to talk to Justin Chancellor about music and to be able to visit Disney World to see Star Wars Galaxy Edge.” Chancellor plays bass in the progressive metal band Tool.
“Dustin was learning to play several Tool songs and wanted to start a Tool tribute band,” Block continued. “He was in the process of starting the band before being diagnosed with cancer. He would play the song and play along with his bass while watching YouTube videos.
“It would be amazing if Justin saw this article and could reach out,” Block said. “It would be granting one of Dustin’s dying wishes and we would greatly appreciate it. He’s also a huge Star Wars fan – so we’re hoping we can find a way to arrange that.”
3. Diamond Appeared in Dozens of Films After Spending 11 Years Playing Screech Powers
Diamond spent over a decade of his life performing the role of Screech on Saved by the Bell and its numerous spin-off series and TV movies between 1989 and 2000, according to his IMDb page. He first played the role in the Saved by the Bell predecessor, Good Morning, Miss Bliss, from 1988 to 1989.
As for his co-stars Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the popular sitcom served as a jumping-off point for Diamond to pursue a career on the big screen. Between 2001 and 2020, he appeared in nearly two dozen films.
He starred in 2014’s Scavenger Killers, played the role of Oliver Jaffe in 2015’s Bleeding Hearts and in 2016 took on the part of Raynard in the horror flick Joker’s Wild. His most recent role was as a music teacher in the 2020 short Catching Up. His 51 acting credits also include a role in the 1988 movie Purple People Eater and two appearances on the family drama sitcom The Wonder Years.
4. Diamond Published a Tell-All Memoir About Life as a Child Star, Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Details of ‘Saved By the Bell’
In 2009, Diamond published a memoir, Behind the Bell, in which he aired the dirty laundry of his experience as a child star and what it was really like behind the scenes of the NBC’s wholesome sitcom. The explicit stories inspired a Lifetime movie on the topic in 2014.
Diamond’s book details the “cast and crew’s extreme lifestyle: sex, drugs, and wild parties,” as described on Amazon. His memoir “gives readers the disheartening story of an ex-child star” and the struggles he faced trying to position himself as a dramatic actor following his years playing the beloved comedic nerd at the fictional Bayside High School.
However, Diamond later claimed much of the book was fabricated by a ghost writer.
When NBC’s streaming service Peacock reprised Saved by the Bell in 2020, Diamond was not asked to be a part of the reboot. In a November interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live!, Diamond’s former co-star Elizabeth Berkley revealed that she hadn’t spoken with him “in a long time” but hoped that he could maybe appear on a future season of the reboot:
We’ll see if there’s another season. Maybe it’s something to explore, and I haven’t talked to him in a long time. Honestly, since I think we finished the show is the last time I actually spoke to him, but not because of anything bad. I mean, he was always nice to me and he’s had his journey, but really I’ve kept more in touch with Mark-Paul (Gosselaar), Tiffani (Thiessen), Mario (Lopez) and then, from time to time, Lark (Voorhies).
In February 2020, Diamond told TMZ a reboot of Saved by the Bell wouldn’t be complete without a reprise of his role as Screech, who appeared in every episode of the show and its spinoffs and was “synonymous with the show,” the outlet reported.
5. Diamond Spent Time in Jail After Being Convicted of Stabbing Someone in 2014
Diamond struggled with his personal life for years after Saved by the Bell came to an end. In 2001, he filed for bankruptcy in California, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. In 2006, Diamond faced foreclosure on his home in Port Washington, Wisconsin, and started a campaign to raise money by selling T-shirts that said, “I paid $15 to save Screech’s house.” He was able to secure a mortgage and keep the house, but in 2009, the actor was sued in Ozaukee County Circuit Court by We Energies, which claimed that Diamond owed $2,079.40 in unpaid utility bills. His Ford Expedition was also repossessed, according to the outlet.
In 2014, Diamond was sentenced to four months in a Wisconsin jail following a barroom stabbing, NBC News reported. At the time, Diamond was living in the Milwaukee suburbs. He was convicted of stabbing a bar customer “in the armpit with a switchblade.”
The police reported the injury caused non-life-threatening injuries to the victim. Diamond’s then-fiancée, Amanda Schutz, was also charged and found guilty of disorderly conduct.
After nearly three months in jail, Diamond was released early and subsequently placed in a work-release program. Both he and Schutz were required to pay the victim $1,500 in restitution.
Diamond landed back in jail on a related probation violation in 2016, according to FOX6 Milwaukee. He had been out of jail for just over a month. TMZ reported the probation violation was drug-related.
In June 2020, TMZ reported that the actor was again facing foreclosure on his Port Washington home and was $300,000 behind on his mortgage there while living in Florida. According to the Milwaukee Record, the house was for sale for $280,000 in July 2020 after suffering damage from a burst water pipe in 2019.
In October 2020, Diamond was the subject of a death hoax claiming that he was killed in a prison riot.