Dustin Diamond died on Monday from stage 4 lung cancer, leaving behind a troubled legacy that includes a sex tape scandal and a scandalous tell-all book about his former Saved By The Bell castmates that he later revealed was filled with made-up stories. He’s since expressed regret over both of those projects, and the Bayside crew doesn’t appear to hold any hard feelings. A number of them have surfaced in the wake of his passing to share some kind words in his memory.
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius,” Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris on the series, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “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.”
Tiffani Thiessen, Bayside’s Kelly Kapowski, shared a tribute to Instagram. “I am deeply saddened by the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing,” she wrote. “Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
After learning of Diamond’s diagnosis a few weeks back, Lark Voorhees, who played Lisa Turtle, took to Instagram with some words of encouragement. “I’d like to take the time to send special love and special best wishes to Dustin Diamond, who is one of my dearest friends,” she wrote. “Dustin, all the many in your close circle who know you to be the great person that you are, are truly pulling for you and praying for the best outcome.”
“Dustin, you will be missed my man,” said Mario Lopez, who helps lead the new reboot as A.C. Slater. “The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on...”
Lopez elaborated on his tribute in an interview with Variety. “I actually just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. He was reluctant to go in [to the hospital] for a while because he didn’t know if anything was going to get out. And I said, ‘Bro, that’s foolish, you’ve got to get in there and take care of yourself and forget what people are saying.’ Some people thought his illness was a joke, which is awful, but the internet always spills tales. When all of this was happening, I was optimistic that he would make a recovery, but it was obviously too late.”
He also took a moment to credit Diamond’s contributions to Saved By The Bell. “He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don’t know if it would have worked without him,” he said.
Lopez added that there was hope that Diamond would guest on the second season of Peacock’s Saved By The Bell reboot. “Now I’m really going to push for some sort of tribute,” he says. “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.”