pop culture

Where Are They Now? Saved by the Bell Edition

Welcome back to another installment of Where Are They Now?  Previous WATN? posts have covered the casts of Roswell, My So-Called Life, and Felicity.  Fresh off my re-viewing of Saved by the Bell, today’s post is all about the semi-talented cast of that Saturday-morning sitcom that defined the early 90s.

Saved by the Bell began as a show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss and ran for one season on Disney (1988-1989).  The show was repackaged as Saved by the Bell and moved to NBC, where it ran on Saturday mornings from 1989 to 1993.  The show focused on a group of six friends and their exploits at the fictional Bayside High School in Palisades, California.  Each season of the show basically took place over the course of one year of high school, but there were some pretty serious plot holes and missteps with regard to this.  Despite being panned by critics, the show was unbelievably popular, and the show’s cast was at the forefront of early 90s fame as a result.  What have they been up to since?  Let’s find out.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris)

Gosselaar was 14 when he began filming Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and so stayed pretty close in age to the character of Zack.  Before landing the role of Zack, Gosselaar had guest appearances on a plethora of 80s shows, including Punky Brewster, The Wonder Years, and Charles in Charge.  After starring on Saved by the Bell, Gosselaar was on the short-lived spin-off SbtB: The College Years.  He struggled to shed his Zack Morris image and had parts in a slew of TV movies before landing a role in the dark indie comedy Dead Man on Campus (it’s terrible in the best way possible).  He has also been a regular cast member on a number of shows, including the short-lived Hyperion Bay (does anyone else remember that terrible show?), NYPD Blue, Commander in ChiefRaising the Bar, and most recently, Franklin and Bash on TNT, which will begin its second season on May 1st.  Gosselaar has also starred in several other TV movies, including my secret guilty-pleasure The Princess and the Marine (this one I can’t explain, you guys), and 12 Dates of Christmas.

Fun fact: Gosselaar’s father is Dutch, and his mother is from Indonesia.  He speaks fluent Dutch.  Is this a fun fact? I’m not sure.

Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater)

Lopez was about 15 when Saved by the Bell premiered.  Before landing the role of meathead Slater on the sitcom, he had a recurring role on a show called a.k.a. Pablo.  He also had a guest appearance on Golden Girls and appeared in several episodes of Kids Incorporated.  After appearing on both Saved by the Bell and the College Years spin-off, Lopez was in several unremarkable TV movies as well as a regular on the show Pacific Blue (which I vaguely remember as being like Baywatch but with cops? on bikes?  correct me if I’m wrong?).  More recently, he had a starring role on the Bold and the Beautiful and a recurring guest spot on Nip/Tuck.  Lopez has also made a name for himself appearing as…er…himself, with recurring spots Hollywood Squares, PetStar, and on several celebutainment shows like Extra!, Entertainment Tonight, and the Insider.  He was also a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.  He was also the host of Randy Jackson’s Best Dance Crew, the short-lived H8r, and  a frequent guest host on Live with Regis and Kelly.  His most recent movie credit is–I’m not making this up–Honey 2.

Fun fact: Lopez was briefly married to model Ali Landry–for something like 3 weeks–before Landry had the marriage annulled after allegations that Lopez had cheated at his bachelor party (the day before the wedding) surfaced.

Dustin Diamond (Samuel “Screech” Powers)

Diamond was by far the youngest cast member on the show.  He was only in fifth grade when he started playing Screech on Good Morning Miss Bliss (where he was supposed to be in eighth grade).  Diamond is the only cast member who went on to play a recurring role in all the SbtB spin-offs, including the long-running (and totally awful) SbtB: The New Class.  Before landing the role of Screech, Diamond worked mostly in commercials.  After finishing The New Class, Diamond has struggled to find work in film and television.  He has guest-starred on several shows, including Robot Chicken.  He made a small appearance in American Pie: The Book of Love, which was straight-to-DVD (and, coincidentally, starred several people I went to high school with).  He appeared as himself on Celebrity Fit Club (that was a trainwreck), Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, and The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest.  He has several projects in development, including something called A Dog For Christmas.

Fun fact: Diamond is so disliked by most of the cast of Saved by the Bell that he was not invited to participate in the reunion special that People put together in 2009.  He was actually airbrushed out of old pictures.  Poor guy.

Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle)

Voorhies was fourteen when she began working on Good Morning, Miss Bliss.  She also had guest-starring roles on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Family Matters, and Martin.  After completing Saved by the Bell, Voorhies went on to have a recurring roles on two soaps: Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful.  She also had a recurring role on a show called In the House.  Voorhies also starred in the movie How High.  She owns her own production company and has dabbled in the music world, though it doesn’t look like she’s ever released a solo album.  Her most current project seems to be a video called Little Creeps, released sometime this year.

Fun fact: Voorhies is a Jehovah’s Witness, and as a result has refused to act in any sort of sex scene.

Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano)

Berkley was sixteen when production began on Saved by the Bell.  Before landing the role of the uptight feminist Jessie, Berkley had small appearances on Silver Spoons and a show called Day by Day.  After SbtB ended, Berkley infamously accepted the lead role in the cult movie Showgirls, which was a complete bomb at the box office.  She also had a role in The First Wives Club.  Later, Berkley had roles in Any Given Sunday and the indie movie Rodger Dodger (which I saw and liked).  Berkley’s had guest appearances on CSI, Law and Order, and the L Word, and CSI: Miami.  She had a role in the Donnie Darko sequel S. Darko, and her most recent film credit is a TV movie called Lucky Christmas.  Last year, Berkley released a non-fiction book called Ask Elizabeth which offers advice to teenage girls and is based on a non-profit organization she founded.  She recently (like, within the last month) announced she’s expecting her first child with her husband.

Fun fact: After Showgirls was a spectacular flop, Berkley went to UCLA and got a degree in English Literature.

Tiffani(-Amber) Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski)

Thiessen was fourteen when she began working on Saved by the Bell.  Before landing the role of heartbreaker Kelly, she didn’t have much television or film experience.  However, she had won the Junior Miss America pageant in 1987.  After completing her run on Saved by the Bell, Thiessen went on to star on Beverly Hills, 90210 as the conniving Valerie Malone (my favorite character, obviously).  She also had recurring roles on Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, Just Shoot Me, and What About Brian.  There hasn’t been a lot of movie work for Thiessen, who starred in quite a few TV movies (including my secret shame She Fought Alone).  Most recently, Thiessen is a series regular on White Collar.

Fun fact: It’s no secret that Thiessen was cast on Beverly Hills to replace Shannen Doherty.  Apparently Thiessen also turned down a role on Charmed (also to replace Doherty).

Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding)

Before landing the role of meddling principal Mr. Belding on both Good Morning, Miss Bliss and SbtB, Haskins had a number of guest appearances on TV shows, including CHiPs, Knot’s Landing, Dukes of Hazard, and The Twilight Zone.  Haskins also starred on SbtB: The New Class alongside Dustin Diamond.  After that, he had guest appearances on The Practice, 7th Heaven, JAG, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  He had a recurring role on a show called Acting Academy and was on several episodes of Men of a Certain Age. Most recently, he was on an episode of Victorious (playing Mr. Belding again), and currently has three projects in development, including a movie called Sharkproof.

Fun fact: Haskins tried to shed his image as Mr. Belding by growing quite the mustache.  It didn’t work.

So there you have it, Gentle Readers.  The cast of Saved by the Bell–and where they are now.

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