Tori Spelling Honors 'First On-Screen Love' Dustin Diamond After His Death: 'He’s an Icon to Me'
Tori Spelling is honoring Dustin Diamond, who died on Monday at 44.
Spelling, who played girlfriend Violet Anne Bickerstaff to Diamond's Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved by the Bell, remembered the late actor with a heartfelt tribute on Instagram alongside a photo of their characters on the series.
"My 1st onscreen love Dustin Diamond got his Angel wings today," the Beverly Hills, 90210 star, 47, began. "Before there was David and Donna there was Screech and Violet. Dustin was my first on-screen kiss. He welcomed me with open arms onto the set of Saved By the Bell. As one can imagine being the newbie on a hit show was overwhelming for a 14-year-old girl."
"He not only showed me around but made sure I was always ok," Spelling said. "Such a young gentleman. He was kind, smart, and always making everyone laugh. He was a great scene partner. He was a really good guy."
She added, "I'm sad after the show we never had much contact aside from occasionally running into each other at events. I'm glad he's out of pain. He's an icon to me professionally and personally. RIP Samuel love, your Violet."
Spelling's followers shared supportive messages in the post's comment section, including Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley, who wrote, "❤️❤️❤️❤️beautiful truth🙏🏼."
Diamond was one of the six core cast members of Saved by the Bell, which ran for four seasons from 1989 to 1993 on NBC. Unlike the others, he did not reprise his role for the Peacock reboot of the series, which debuted its first season last November.
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On Jan. 14, Diamond's rep confirmed to PEOPLE the actor was diagnosed with cancer. A week later, on Jan. 21, the rep said Diamond had started chemotherapy for stage 4 small cell carcinoma, a cancer that commonly occurs in lungs but can also manifest in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract.
In a lengthy statement announcing his death on Monday, Diamond's rep said while the cancer "spread rapidly throughout his system," the actor "did not suffer."
"Dustin Diamond was a character in and of himself: an unpredictable spitfire who always left us shocked, but never left us bored," the statement read in part. "We are thankful he trusted us enough to share his genuine, authentic self with our team. We wish you knew him in the way that we did. We please ask that you give room for privacy to our team and Mr. Diamond's family during this tragic time, as we grieve and remember the memories spent together. This loss is as much stinging as it is sudden."
Diamond's longtime manager Roger Paul also told PEOPLE that the actor's girlfriend of one year, Tash Jules, was by his side when he died.
RELATED: Dustin Diamond Was Diagnosed with 'Brutal, Relentless' Cancer Just 3 Weeks Before His Death
Following news of Diamond's death, his Saved by the Bell costars Berkley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Lark Voorhies all honored the late actor.
"The fragility of this life is something never to be taken for granted. Prayers for your family will continue on…," Lopez, 47, captioned a photo of himself and Diamond on Instagram.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Gosselaar, 46, said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. 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."
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