Best known for his iconic role as Screech on Saved by the Bell, Dustin Diamond's life was a rollercoaster ride of fame, controversy, and tragedy.
1. He Had Unassuming Origins
Dustin Diamond was born in 1977 to a family that had professional backgrounds in the world of technology. His father taught digital electronics and his mother was a computer operator—however, Diamond never followed in his parents' footsteps. He was destined for child stardom. But little did he know, the world of celebrity was a dangerous place.
2. He Was A Child Star
When he was only 11, Diamond began his acting career. He played the iconic role called Samuel “Screech” Powers in the beloved television series Saved by the Bell. He played the same character all throughout his childhood and teenage years, gaining critical acclaim and turning himself into a household name.
But behind the scenes, the people he trusted the most betrayed him in the worst way.
3. His Parents Betrayed Him
Child actors have the potential to make millions—but this was not the case with Diamond. According to the star, his family did a horrendous of managing his finances, particularly his Saved by the Bell income. In a later interview, he went even further, exposing just how deep this betrayal went.
4. He Had No Money
Apparently, Diamond's parents hadn't diligently saved his money for him—oh no, instead, they spent most of it before he could even get his hands on it. He said, "It's a shame. My parents wasted so much of my hard work. A lot of my youth". As we'll see, this had a devastating impact on the actor's future. But at the time?
He was blissfully unaware of the storms ahead.
5. His Career Hid A Speed Bump
Being a star on Saved by the Bell wasn't all smooth sailing. In his 13 years working on the show, Diamond saw some failures. He starred in only one season of Saved by the Bell: The College Years, which got cancelled before it could even get off the ground. He ended up returning to Saved by the Bell: The New Class, sticking with it until 2000.
But this is when the real trouble truly began.
6. He Had Small Gigs
When the show ended in 2000, Diamond found himself in a bit of a pickle. He needed more work. While wishing to land on another TV show, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy and also appeared as a guest on various game shows. His gigs included The Weakest Link and reality shows such as Celebrity Boxing 2.
While he stumbled through a dip in his career, his private life got even messier.
7. He Couldn't Pay His Bills
Although it is hard to pinpoint the exact date Dustin Diamond began dating Jennifer Misner, the two were already together by 2004. They shared a life together—they even had mutual landscaping bills, which according to Ozaukee County, were unpaid.
Diamond's biggest problems were his money problems—and they were about to spiral out of control.
8. He Lost A Baby
In 2005, a joyful update in the couple’s life turned into a disaster. Diamond and Misner were expecting a baby—but the pregnancy ended in heartbreak. Not only did Misner miscarry due to an ectopic pregnancy, but the loss also landed the couple with some expensive medical bills.
Sadly, for Diamond, life was only a slippery slope. He had a lot further to fall.
9. People Didn’t Like Him
Diamond had already lost his status as an A-lister, but then he lost his reputation as a beloved actor. In a public poll conducted by Stuff magazine in May 2006, people ranked Diamond as the “third most annoying former child actor”. It gets worse.
Some of the readers even added they would like to punch him in the face if they ever get the opportunity. To all of the readers who found Diamond off-putting, you are in for a surprise.
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10. He Released A Tape
The same year, our “third most annoying former child actor” did something the opposite of childish. The 29-year-old actor released an adult tape, and named it “Screeched," after his iconic role. You might be wondering where this ridiculous idea to share your own tape came from.
Well, according to Diamond, it all started when he and his friends began discussing Paris Hilton’s tape.
11. Paris Hilton Made Him Jealous
When Diamond and his friends learn about Paris Hilton’s jaw-dropping $14 million profit, one of Diamond’s buddies said, “You got to be worth at least a million”. Diamond thought to himself, “Yeah—yeah, maybe” and a couple of days later, he put this dangerous idea into motion.
Although he ended up releasing it, there was one shocking detail about it that made us question—is it even his tape?
12. He Made A Shocking Revelation
The tape tarnished Diamond’s name forever. He later opened up about the whole situation, which turned out to be even more controversial than the tape itself. Diamond—unbelievably—claimed that it wasn't actually his body in the tape. As he put it, “In my stupidity, I thought I could totally fake this. I could get a stunt person to take my place. It's my face but nothing else”.
People wondered: Was it at least worth the trouble?
13. He Regretted His Decision
According to Diamond, it definitely wasn’t. He quickly regretted his decision as he realized people began looking down on him. Even though he achieved his goal and got some money off of it, he said that “it definitely wasn't worth what the fallout was”. The extra cash he got, on the other hand, went away faster than it came, leaving Diamond in big trouble.
14. He Was About To Lose His House
Diamond's financial troubles began haunting him all the way back in 2001 when he declared bankruptcy. But by 2006, his money problems had taken an even darker turn. Fearing that he'd lose his home in Wisconsin under a foreclosure order, Diamond had to come up with a way to pay $250,000.
15. He Sold T-Shirts
On a Tuesday morning at Howard Stern’s radio show, Diamond launched his T-shirt line which was meant to alleviate his debts and hopefully help to keep his house. On the back of the T-shirt, it said, “I paid $15.00 to save Screeech's house”.
Diamond even thought about the copyright issues, so he added an extra “e” to his character’s name—Screech—to prevent any trouble. Right there and then, 100,000 computers logged onto Diamond’s website.
16. No One Knew If He Made It
Diamond needed to sell around 30,000 T-shirts by the end of June 2006. In the first couple of hours, while he was still on the air, around 100,000 computers logged onto his website. His countdown began. It is still unclear whether he made it or not, but his first moments on the show were for sure success.
He commented, "If the public didn't care, I as an entertainer wouldn't have been a success". The public might have supported Diamond, but when it came to his fellow celebrity friends, it was a whole other story.
17. He Was A Rule Breaker
When his pet project was over, Diamond ran back to TV. This time, he was a cast member of Celebrity Fit Club and he had to work under the supervision of instructor Harvey Walden. Diamond had never been a rule follower—and his stubborn side came out on the show in the most dramatic way.
18. He Made Trouble
During his time on Celebrity Fit Club, Diamond failed to follow the specified diet and fitness routines—and soon, this started bugging Walden. There began a friendly little conflict. Walden admitted that, "We always get resistance in the beginning and I just thought with him it was no different than anybody else”. However, he was terribly mistaken.
19. He Quarrelled With People
Time passed by, yet Diamond seemed to get more complacent. He often trash-talked other contestants and on one occasion, he even challenged one of the instructors to "physical combat". Furious and disappointed, Walden started antagonizing Diamond and other cast members had to hold him back.
Walden admitted, "I really lost it, but it was long overdue”. This feud marked the end of Diamond’s journey on Celebrity Fit Club, but unfortunately, there were other feuds awaiting him.
20. He Wrote A Scandalous Book
In 2009, Diamond stirred the pot by publishing a book about the inside stories and his experiences on his infamous project Saved by the Bell. The most troubling part about the book was that Diamond portrayed his experiences on the set in a very negative way, often painting an unflattering portrait of his co-stars.
Actually, unflattering wouldn’t cut it, it was downright scandalous.
21. He Threw His Co-Star Under The Bus
The first piece of information Diamond revealed was that his co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar used steroids, which Gosselaar denied immediately. This back-and-forth turned ugly when Diamond insisted that it was true. He told a story about Gosselaar admitting to it while they rode in a limo together.
Diamond also noted that his physical transformation was apparent in the spin-off as he looked significantly bigger in a very short amount of time. He didn’t stop there.
22. He Trash-Talked
Diamond had more stories about more co-stars, and the next one was Mario Lopez, who played Slater on the show. Even though Diamond didn’t make a comment about the type of substances Lopez did or did not use, he told everyone that Lopez was a “ladies' man from a very young age”.
While Lopez didn’t come forward and defend himself, critics questioned the comment’s accuracy. While all this chaos was going on, another event exacerbated Diamond's problems.
23. They Didn’t Invite Him
The same year, People magazine organized an event honoring the 20th anniversary of the show, Saved by the Bell. This was a high-profile event and the organizers invited all of the original cast members, except one person: Dustin Diamond.
Diamond stated that he wasn’t interested in participating in any of the show’s reunions, still, not getting an invite hurt him. Sad about his status with his cast members, Diamond opened up about the book that started this whole mess.
24. He Referred To His Book As A Disappointment
In an interview about the book, Diamond confessed that his book Behind the Bell was another disappointment of his. As he put it, "I was a first-time author, so they had a ghostwriter. I talked to a guy a few times, so the book has some truth in it—and a lot of the stories were just kind of throwaways". In a regretful fashion, he continued to explain the writing process.
25. He Was Ambiguous
While writing the book, Diamond said that someone asked him about the drama between the cast members. they also asked whether any of his co-workers used harmful substances. Diamond emphasized the fact that he gave that person a vague answer, stating that "Well, what do you think? There was a bunch of kids with hormones, 15, 16 years old".
Still, the version that ended up in the book told a different story, and here’s why.
26. He Gossiped
According to Diamond, the question-and-answer type of conversation between this undisclosed person and himself quickly turned into a gossip session. Diamond highlighted that the gossip session was not actually trash-talking.
He said, “I have nothing but good thoughts and memories towards everybody," adding that, "I expected that I was going to be sent to copy to proofread”. He argued that instead of seeking his approval, the editors sent Diamond the final version. Is he lying? We’ll never know, but we do know that he has a habit of lying.
27. There Were Rumors About His Marital Status
In 2009, people began talking about Diamond and his girlfriend, Misner—in particular, they wondered whether the two had tied the knot. Diamond then went on the record and confirmed that he and Misner were husband and wife, which turned out to be an outright lie. Nobody knew it was a lie back then, but they were going to learn soon.
28. He Separated From His Girlfriend
In 2013, nothing was going well in Diamond’s life. No job prospects, a bad reputation, and on top of that, a broken relationship. That year, allegedly “married” couple Misner and Diamond announced their separation. The reasons were known, but apparently problematic enough to break off the long-lasting relationship.
Diamond was on the verge of depression…until someone came along to cheer him up.
29. He Met A Clown
Soon after, Diamond met a woman called Amanda Schutz, who was a professional clown. You read that right, her job was literally to cheer people up—so that’s what she did with Diamond. They bonded over their love of comedy and this bond turned into a romantic relationship.
The clown and the comedian hoped to have their own "happily ever after"—but it was a downright horror story.
30. He Had A Fiancée
In 2014, after spending a brief time together, Schutz and Diamond kicked things up a notch. Diamond got on one knee and handed Schutz a ring. The clown became the fiancée—even though there was no record of Misner and Diamond’s divorce. But if you think this is messy then buckle up, because it's only the introduction.
31. Someone Punched His Girl
On a cold December night in 2014, Schutz and Diamond were enjoying a night out when events took a sinister turn. A group of people began bothering them and asking for pictures. Then, out of nowhere, a stranger “sucker-punched” Schutz. As Diamond recalled, “She leaned back to me and her face was covered in blood".
While Schutz was in shock, the unnamed man kept coming towards her in a very aggressive way.
32. He Defended Her
Reportedly, this man grabbed Schutz’s hair, which made Diamond lose his temper. Later, Diamond described the fiasco, saying, “I opened my pocket knife and said, ‘Let my wife go immediately,’ which worked”. However, there was some damage on the man’s arm, and the only person standing near him with a sharp tool was Diamond.
That was when the officers stepped in.
33. He Looked Guilty
When authorities came across such a scene, they were sure that Diamond was responsible. And though he argued that the aforementioned man “nicked his arm on the tip of” Diamond’s blade, nobody believed him. He ended up paying a hefty price for this altercation.
34. His Girlfriend Was Guilty
At first, the authorities charged Diamond with recklessly endangering public safety. However, the investigation process lead to some unexpected results. The officers decided to fine Schutz—for $500—on the basis of being guilty of disorderly conduct. Though his most serious charge got dropped, Diamond still had a lot of explaining to do.
35. His Mind Was Somewhere Else
Then began the tiresome court proceedings. Diamond hired a defense lawyer Thomas Alberti, who highlighted Diamond’s complete faith in the justice system. People reported that Diamond didn’t speak in court, but Alberti seemed to know the reason behind it.
Outside the courtroom, Alberti stated that Diamond was "not happy he missed the Packers game". With every question posed by reporters, Alberti’s comments got more outrageous.
36. He Had The Best Time
At that moment, Diamond had already experienced what it is like to be behind bars. He had stayed in a cell all weekend, which must have been terrible, right? Well, according to Alberti, it was the opposite. Referring to Diamond’s experience, Alberti said that his client made the best of his time and even caught up on some books.
37. His Verdict Came
From May to June 2015, Diamond waited for a verdict. Finally, on June 25, the results came in: He had to serve time behind bars for four months. So, that’s what he did. He recalled this experience, saying, “It’s pretty daunting, it’s pretty scary going into that environment”. Nevertheless, he got his freedom back earlier than expected.
38. He Got Out A Month Early
After three months in the facility, Diamond heard that he was getting out soon. Instead of four months, they reduced his sentence to three months plus probation. However, Diamond messed up and violated the terms of his probation. In May 2016, authorities arrested the troubled star again.
39. He Missed Another Reunion
The past couple of months had been hectic for Diamond, but his busy schedule wasn’t the reason why he missed another Saved by the Bell reunion. No, they didn’t invite him—for the second time. This time, the original cast got together to do a skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, reprising their characters.
It was another slap in the face. However, there was a more pressing matter to attend to.
40. He Moved Away
Diamond was not happy with where he was in life. And his decisions reflected how much of a change he really needed. In 2018, he moved to Florida. But that wasn't all. The next year, he sold his house in Port Washington. This was an opportunity for a fresh start—but tragically, fate had a cruel twist in store for him.
41. Something Bothered Him
Dustin Diamond’s sweet new life in Florida took a sad turn in January 2021, when the actor began feeling ill. He knew something was wrong because, on top of the horrible pain, he noticed a large lump on his neck. He immediately went down to a hospital to seek medical attention.
Then, everything got much worse.
42. His Diagnosis Was Shocking
After a rigorous medical examination, Diamond got the worst kind of diagnosis: He had Stage IV Small Cell Carcinoma, which was a type of very dangerous cancer in a very developed state. The outlook was bleak and terrifying. And like any scared cancer patient, Diamond looked for answers.
43. He Began Speculating
Diamond felt confused about his diagnosis, especially since his type of cancer rarely occurred in non-smokers. That's when he fell down a depressing rabbit hole. He began to speculate about what caused his cancer.
He believed that his career as a stand-up comedian—as well as the extended stays in cheap motels with poor air conditions—may have been at the root of his predicament.
44. He Had A Wishlist
Knowing that he didn’t have that much time left, Diamond had some dying wishes. For starters, he wanted to meet Justin Chancellor, the bass player from Tool, who greatly inspired Diamond to be involved in music. Then, Diamond wished to visit the “Star Wars” exhibit in Florida’s Disney World.
He wanted to put these wishes into motion, but he didn’t have the energy for it.
45. His Old Friend Wanted To Surprise Him
One of Dustin Diamond’s old friends Dan Block, also known as the “Insurance King," wanted to do something more than send flowers. Block had a perfect idea.
As the sponsor of a NASCAR driver Josh Bilicki, he asked Bilicki to drive a car that had Diamond’s face on it, alongside a get-well message printed upon the door. Bilicki was on board, so they went through with the plan. The results were bittersweet.
46. It Was A Special Gift
The car that had Diamond’s face all over it was about to race. On the door, it said, “Get well soon, Dustin!” In addition, Block wanted to add another phrase on the hood that said, “Saved by the King,” which was a line by Diamond. But no amount of well wishes could save Diamond.
47. He Died Young
Diamond had completed the first round of his therapy in Cape Coral, Florida—which gave hope to his friends and family. Nevertheless, he wasn’t getting any better, and on February 1, 2021, the 44-year-old comedian passed, shocking all his loved ones.
48. They Still Honored Him
After Dustin Diamond’s tragic demise, Dan Block repurposed his get well car, turning it into a poignant tribute to Diamond's life instead. It still saw the racetrack when Bilicki raced in the 2021 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, finishing 18th. The entire gesture didn't go as planned—but after all, nothing in Diamond’s life happened the way it was supposed to happen.