Actor Dustin Diamond died Feb. 1, shortly after revealing he had been hospitalized with stage 4 small cell carcinoma. Diamond was 44.

Diamond was best known for his breakout teen-aged role as Screech in NBC’s Saved By The Bell in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Dustin Neil Diamond was born Jan. 7, 1977, in San Jose, Calif., and was acting in TV commercials and booking supporting sitcom roles before landing a big-screen gig on Big Top Pee-wee.

Paul Reubens wrote:

I just saw the news that actor Dustin Diamond, best known as Screech from “Saved by the Bell,” passed away. Dustin acted in my movie “Big Top Pee-wee” when he was ten years old. It was his first featured role in a movie. I first met him at his audition. Even as a kid, he was charming as well as talented. I remember he had a very gentle spirit. He was very funny and loved to make people laugh.

I followed his subsequent career and was happy to see him find such great success on “Saved by the Bell.” It was only two weeks ago that I heard it had been announced he was hospitalized with cancer. Somewhere, I saw an address to write him and did just that. I wanted him to know that I vividly remembered working with him all those years ago and he had stuck in my mind because he was so professional, happy and creative. And, that I thought his performance in the movie was wonderful.

I told him I was joining with the tens of thousands of others who were wishing him well, praying for him and holding him in our thoughts. At the end of my note, I said for him to please get well and when he did, we’d catch up on the last thirty years. I don’t know if he saw my note or someone read it to him, but I hope so.

Rest In Peace, Dustin. Sending you respect, admiration and love. 

For better or worse, audiences and fans thought of Diamond simply as Screech.

He first played the character on the Disney Channel’s Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which after one lone season, became Saved by the Bell on NBC. He stuck with Screech through four seasons of that show, then eight seasons of spin-offs and two TV movies.

Diamond attempted to start a new career in stand-up comedy in the 2000s.

He wound up in several reality TV shows. Among them: Celebrity Boxing 2, Celebrity Fit Club, and Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. He also released his own sex tape

Diamond was not part of the Saved by the Bell reunion/revival that debuted recently on Peacock, although several of his former cast mates weighed in upon hearing of his death.