For those of you who have been on the HelloGiggles train for awhile, you might know that I kind of, sort of love Saved By The Bell. A few years back, I recapped some of the most memorable episodes, and it was great to rewatch some of the classic moments of Bayside High for a reason.
The show aired on NBC from 1989 to 1993, and was a retooled version of the Disney Channel’s Good Morning Miss Bliss – in syndication, Miss Bliss episodes have been fully adopted under the Saved By The Bell name. Besides spawning a Zack Morris crush that plagued teens throughout the nation, the popularity of the show gave us two TV movies, a New Class, and a (kind of underrated) college spin-off.
So – what’s the cast doing today?
Mark-Paul Gosselar as Zack Morris
As a child, I honestly thought that Zack was a natural blonde. Because kids don’t dye their hair, right? Well, I was wrong. Terribly wrong.
Mark-Paul made a drastic career choice a few years after the show wrapped up, by portraying a college student who date-rapes his best friend’s sister at a fraternity party in the TV-movie She Cried No. Perhaps this amped-up dramatic role was a way for him to get his foot in the door with other projects – notably playing Detective John Clark in NYPD Blue from 2001 to 2005 as well as Jerry Kellerman in the 2008 show Raising the Bar. He’s currently in the show Franklin & Bash, which is on TNT. In 2011, he costarred with Amy Smart in the Christmas movie 12 Dates of Christmas, which was part of the ABC Family Channel “25 Days of Christmas”.
Mark-Paul split with his wife
Kelly Lisa Ann Russell in 2010 after 14 years of marriage and 2 children. Lisa Ann remarried Survivor host Jeff Probst later. (It’s kind of strange to think that dude with the dimples in khaki is the stepfather to the offspring of Zack Morris.) Mark-Paul remarried as well, and had a baby boy named Dekker Edward this September.
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski
Known now as Tiffani Thiessen, playing the role of Kelly was this girl’s first acting role. Right after the show, she was cast to replace Shannen Doherty in 90210, and stayed on the show for four years. She’s no stranger to TV movies, but has taken on bigger projects as well. She had a role in the Pauly Shore movie Son In Law, was a recurring cast member in the TV show Two Guys and a Girl in 2000, and is currently playing Elizabeth Burke in the TV series White Collar.
Tiffani appeared with her husband Brady Smith on a 2009 episode of the reality show HGTV Design Star, which inspired the pair to start a nursery furniture line called PetitNest.
Dustin Diamond as Screech Powers
Here’s where things get depressing. By now, you’ve probably heard about the scandal and sadness that Screech has brought upon the world since the show ended, but let’s re-open this wound. Here’s one positive piece of news: Dustin was the child star who lasted on The Bell the longest, having appeared in every Bell-related TV show and movie since it all started.
Dustin started doing stand up comedy after the end of the show(s), and made a few cameos in movies as himself. Later, he hit up the reality TV circuit, joining the fifth season of Celebrity Fit Club as well as Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, which aired on CMT.
Now let’s talk about Behind The Bell. Because, yes – Screech wrote a tell-all book about the horrific things he saw behind the scenes. Guys, I read this book. Of course I read this book. And from the looks of it, even Diamond didn’t do a read-through after submitting the manuscript (he repeats full paragraphs, more than once!) Not only did he accuse his past co-stars of sleeping with each other, but he also said that drug use was rampant on set. He also claimed that he has had sex with 2,000 women, one of them NBC’s VP of children’s programming – Linda Mancuso, who unfortunately passed away in her 40’s – who was 18 years his senior. His main place to pick up chicks? Disneyland. Looks like Disney fans just couldn’t get enough of Screech. But the main thing one would learn from the tell-all is the fact that Dustin Diamond was (at the time) extremely bitter, and super capable of holding lifelong grudges.
Also, he made his own sex tape in 2006. The title of it is gross.
Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano
Kudos to Jessie, for proving that smart girls go far and can overcome caffeine pill addiction within a short amount of time. I will never hear the word “protest” without thinking “Jessie is probably chained to her locker somewhere.”
Elizabeth actually auditioned for the role of Kelly, and since the producers couldn’t decide between her and Tiffani, figured that the best thing to do would be to create a brand new character in order to employ both talented teens.
In a famous move to gain more adult roles, Elizabeth took on the most “adult” role of all – playing Nomi Malone in the highly-panned film Showgirls. Thankfully, Elizabeth seems to have gained a sense of humor about it, stating the following to Variety this year:
“It’s kind of shocking–it’s one of MGM’s highest grossing DVDs of all time. It’s just a different time now. It’s very campy and over the top. I don’t think it was presented that way for people to know what to make of it. I think it was being marketed one way when the film itself was so big and we were directed in such an over the top way. But I think it was embraced and found its way for all its grandeur. There’s a sense of humor underneath some of the darkness. I think, also, pole dancing is now mainstream. People take lessons at gyms.”
Elizabeth rebounded quickly with a small role in The First Wives Club, and has appeared in numerous shows since, including NYPD Blue, Without A Trace, The L Word, and CSI: Miami. If you want to see more of Elizabeth, she’s on the current season of Dancing With The Stars.
She even decided to pay homage to her infamous Saved By The Bell breakdown, which was truly amazing.
Did I mention that this girl is also a New York Times Best Selling author?
Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle
We love Lark Voorhies, and we hope she’s never in a position where she needs to sell off her fashionable clothes in order to pay debt. (Sidenote: How did Zack get all of the lockers to automatically open and close so quickly? The world may never know.)
Immediately after the show, Lark played the role of single mom Wendy Reardon on Days of Our Lives, and later played a character (who ironically was also into fashion) on The Bold and The Beautiful. In 1997 she played another character named Lisa, in the film How To Be A Player. That year she also landed another TV show, playing Mercedes Langford in In The House. In the 2000’s, she made an appearance in the movie How High, and then took a pretty big break from acting until 2008.
Her most recent role has been playing a character named Hanna in the movie Closer to God: Jessica’s Journey.
After a few drastic pictures of Lark circulated late last year (see above), people were quick to assume that she had: Brain damage, a drug problem, bipolar disorder, a severe case of being brainwashed, or all of the above. Even Dustin Diamond tried to get in on the Lark news by saying the following after working with her on a small project recently: “The person who said hi to me when she first showed up on-set was not the same person at the end of the night… It was like talking to two different people.” (Dustin might have been correct, but I think I would have believed him more if he never wrote the aforementioned book!)
Her mother told People magazine that Lark suffers from bipolar disorder, but Lark quickly denied it. Regardless, we hope Lark is well and hope for the best.
Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater
You guys know what A.C. stands for, right? It’s not Awesomely Cool, or Air Conditioner. It’s Albert Clifford. Granted, A.C. sounds way tougher. I understand why he made the change when he started attending Bayside High.
Mario has had a really successful career after the show ended. In 1997, he starred as famous Olympian diver Greg Louganis in the TV Movie Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story, but went back to working on a TV series with 1998’s Pacific Blue, where he played a police officer named Bobby Cruz. He worked steadily on The Bold and the Beautiful in 2006, and then went on to having a recurring role on Nip/Tuck as Dr. Mike Hamoui.
He’s also become known to hold his own as a host – since 2008 he’s been a host for Extra, and has also hosted America’s Best Dance Crew for MTV. During season two of the U.S. version of The X Factor, he was brought on as a host along with Khloe Kardashian. While Mario was asked to return for season three, Khloe unfortunately was not.
In addition, Mario has penned three books related to fitness and weight loss.
Dennis Haskins as Mr. Belding
Hey-hey-hey, WHAT is going ON here? Who can forget about Belding? And I’m not talking about Rod. Rod is a no-good skirt chaser, who killed the dreams of white water rafting for everybody.
What I love about Dennis is the way he embraces the role, even today. For example, his twitter handle is “MrBelding”. While his tweets are sometimes Bell related (it was how I learned that Mr. Tuttle passed away!) a lot of them are about wrestling. Seems like he’s quite the fan – he even appeared on an episode of RAW.
In August of 2009, Dennis released his first music album called “Karaoke With Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins,” which includes a duet with Brooke Hogan.
But that doesn’t mean that he’s done with acting. You may have spotted him on a memorable episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia a few years ago, and he also appeared in a few episodes of Men of a Certain Age.
He also had brief scenes in an episode of Mad Men, and How I Met Your Mother. His primary way of getting his work circulated has been through appearances in a countless number of web series.
If you’re bummed that I forgot a write-up of Tori – didn’t you kind of forget Tori as well? (No offense, Leanna Creel. You couldn’t help it.)
Winner: It’s a tie! I’m going with power couple A.C. and Jessie on this one. While Mario has been the most visible, Elizabeth seems to have rebounded the best. It takes a lot to shed the image of a Showgirl, and Elizabeth has been successful with so many projects that she deserves the credit.