Back in the day, Bayside High was THE place to be… besides The Max! From August 20, 1989, to May 22, 1993, Saved by the Bell was showing in every American household on Saturday mornings. From the iconic catchphrases to the characters, there are many reasons why this show was a success, namely the talented cast.
The wildest part is that this show was the first big role for many of the cast members! The loyal fanbase and the standing power of the show led to a reboot on Peacock. Wait a second, the new series has already been available since November 2020?! Well, then, we’d better take a few minutes to reminisce about the original cast members and see what they’re doing now.
Tiffani Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski
Tiffani Thiessen had been in the entertainment industry for a good minute before landing the coveted role of Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell. Thiessen started when she was only eight years old, focusing mostly on modeling and participating in beauty pageants. Then she hit her big break.
Thiessen was able to slip into the girl-next-door persona with such ease that it wasn’t just Zach Morris who wanted to woo her. She starred as Kelly for all four seasons of Saved by the Bell. Initially, she wasn’t planning on appearing in the spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, but thank goodness she ended up changing her mind. We would’ve been devastated had we been left with no Kelly-Zach proposal!
Tiffani Thiessen Today
Tiffani Thiessen hit gold when she was able to star in not one but two huge ‘90s hits! After Saved by the Bell wrapped, Thiessen landed a role on Beverly Hills 90210. She stayed on that show through their ninth season. Besides Kelly Kapowski, her most notable role to date would have to be playing Elizabeth Burke on White Collar.
She thrilled her fans when she announced that she would be appearing in the Saved by the Bell reboot as Kelly. Her upcoming project is hosting an MTV viral video show called Deliciousness, which is a spinoff of their Ridiculousness program. Off-camera, Thiessen has been married to Brady Smith since 2005. The two share two children, Harper (11) and Holt (6).
Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle
Lark Voorhies was encouraged to get into acting at age two, but it wasn’t until she was fourteen years old that she landed a role on Small Wonder. After that guest appearance, Voorhies landed the role of her career – as the sassy, fashion-loving Lisa Turtle on a Disney Channel TV show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
The character was initially written differently, but show creators were so taken with Voorhies that they rewrote the role to suit her. That show only lasted one season before Disney dropped it. But then NBC miraculously snagged it! It was reworked into Saved by the Bell, and they kept Voorhies on as part of the cast. Thankfully, we got to experience her iconic one-liners and outfit changes.
Lark Voorhies Today
Since Saved by the Bell ended, Lark Voorhies has made several appearances in television shows. She did the rounds in the most known soap operas, like Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful. Outside of these TV projects, Voorhies was also involved in some smaller film projects and some direct-to-video films.
Over the course of 2010 and 2011, Voorhies wrote three books that she also published herself. Voorhies is currently single after finalizing divorces with Miguel Coleman in 2004 and then Jimmy Green in 2015. In 2020, she publicly expressed her disappointment and hurt that she wasn’t asked to participate in the Saved by the Bell reboot. The situation was rectified, and she ended up guest-starring as Lisa Turtle.
Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano
Everyone’s favorite smarty-pants! Elizabeth Berkley started off as a dancer and a model for Elite before she got into acting. Her first time on TV was in 1987’s Frog, which she followed up with smaller guest appearances. When she was fifteen, she actually went in to read for the part of Kelly Kapowski.
That role ended up going to Tiffany Thiessen, but show creators loved Berkley so much that they wrote the character of Jessie Spano for her. Berkley was part of Saved by the Bell’s main cast during its original four seasons but didn’t return for the spinoffs.
Elizabeth Berkley Today
After four successful seasons, Elizabeth Berkley went on to star in the cult classic film Showgirls, a complete 180 from the innocent teen sitcom. After that, she appeared in The First Wives Club. Berkley has stuck chiefly to TV movies and guest appearances on shows like The L Word and CSI.
In 2003, Berkley tied the knot with Greg Lauren and welcomed a son in 2012. She published a self-help book, Ask-Elizabeth, in 2011, and it went on to become a New York Times bestseller. She has reprised her role as Jessie in the Saved by the Bell 2020 reboot.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Zack Morris
Mark-Paul Gosselaar was America’s favorite high school student. With an acting career that began at age 10, Gosselaar guest-starred on well-known sitcoms like Punky Brewster and The Wonder Years. Landing the role of Zack Morris on Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which became Saved by the Bell, accelerated his career.
Thank goodness because we would’ve missed out on Zack Morris’ devilish smile! Famous for breaking the fourth wall with his catchphrase, “Time out,” Gosselaar starred as Zack for all four seasons and all the sequels, movies, and spinoffs that resulted from the success of the show.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar Today
After playing Zack Morris, Gosselaar starred in his first film, Dead Man on Campus. Post-film, he landed a number of leading roles in TV shows like Commander in Chief, NYPD Blue, and Mixed-ish, which was a spinoff prequel of ABC’s Black-ish.
When it was announced in 2020 that there was going to be a Saved by the Bell reboot, Gosselaar jumped at the opportunity to reprise his role as Zack Morris. Gosselaar was married to Lisa Ann Russell from 1996-2011 and has been married to Catriona McGinn since 2012. He has four children, two from each marriage.
Mario Lopez as A.C. Slater
Those eyes and that smile? Oh mama, it seems like we’ve got ourselves a classic ‘90s heartthrob. Mario Lopez started off as a trained dancer from the age of three. He got into acting when he was spotted at a dance performance by a talent scout.
He was on Kids Incorporated for three seasons as a drummer. His agility and athleticism, paired with his dashing good looks, helped him land the role of Bayside High’s star athlete, A.C. Slater. Lopez starred as Slater for all four seasons of the show, sequels, movies, and spinoffs.
Mario Lopez Today
Lopez went and booked a string of television movies and guest roles, sometimes as himself. He was briefly married to Ali Landry in 2004. In 2006, he was on The Bold and the Beautiful and was the runner-up on Dancing With the Stars.
Lopez was part of the revival cast of A Chorus Line, where he met his wife, Courtney Mazza. They were wed in 2012, and they share three kids. Lopez has become best known for hosting everything from Extra to Miss Universe 2020. He’s one of the returning cast members in the Saved by the Bell reboot.
Dustin Diamond as Samuel “Screech” Powers
Every plot with two good-looking leads needs the silly, odd friend for some added comic relief, and that’s exactly what Screech delivered! Dustin Diamond was originally cast as Screech for the show Good Morning, Miss Bliss, but when the show was canceled, his role was jeopardized.
Luckily, when NBC decided to pick it up and continue it under the name Saved by the Bell, Diamond was hired for the Screech role. He appeared in all four seasons and also starred in all of the subsequent projects, from sequels to movies.
Some Drama and Missteps
Dustin Diamond played a lovable goofball on the show, but after its end, trouble and drama seemed to follow him. In 2006, a sex tape was released with someone who looked like him in it, although he confirmed with Oprah that it was not actually him.
A couple of years later, he released a tell-all book about his castmates and life on the set of Saved by the Bell. He ended up losing contact with a lot of people because of it. Then, in 2014, he was served three months in prison before being put on parole for a stabbing incident during a bar fight.
Did Screech From Saved by the Bell Die?
Some things did go right for our man Screech. Diamond started touring and performing his stand-up comedy after the show ended. He was on several reality shows like Celebrity Boxing 2, The Weakest Link, and Celebrity Fit Club. In addition to reality television, Dustin Diamond racked up a list of appearances (both cameo and otherwise) in many movies, including Made, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, American Pie Presents: The Book of Love, and Hamlet A.D.D.
Sadly, Diamond was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January 2021. He finished one round of chemotherapy before succumbing to the disease in February 2021.
Dennis Haskins as Mr. Belding
Before becoming the iconic principal Mr. Belding, Dennis Haskins started off on television with some smaller roles. But as they say, there are no small parts which we think rings true here as these were not just some small projects.
Dennis Haskins found himself in roles on The Twilight Zone and Magnum P.I., both of which were legendary programs in their time. After that came Haskins’ golden ticket: the character of Mr. Belding on Good Morning, Miss Bliss. After the show was redone by NBC and rebranded as Saved by the Bell, Haskins was the only remaining adult cast member.
Dennis Haskins Today
Haskins starred as Mr. Belding in every single sequel, spinoff, and movie, which took him until about 2000. Then, he starred in a variety of projects ranging from cinema to television. Haskins found himself appearing in Disney’s Max Keeble’s Big Move, 7th Heaven, How I Met Your Mother, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and New Girl, to name a few.
In 2015, he appeared with other actors from the original cast on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon for a Bayside High reunion sketch. He was married once but has since divorced. They share one child.
Ed Alonzo as Max
Sure, the ‘90s were a magical time, and Bayside High seemed to be a magical place, but did you know that the show creators cast an actual magician?! The Max, the restaurant that everyone from Bayside High seemed to hang out at every day, was owned by the character Max.
Max was played by Ed Alonzo, who actually did magic for a living, along with dabbling in acting projects. He was a regular on the show during its first season, but viewers didn’t see much of Max after that.
Ed Alonzo Today
The show’s executive producer, Peter Engel, said that the character of Max was written off the show because the writing team noticed that the show was drawing in more teenaged viewers rather than children. To appeal to the teen market, they decided to ditch the magician.
But don’t worry, Alonzo had plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He may have left Bayside, but he moved on to appear in other well-known projects like Full House and Modern Family. Alonzo made his triumphant return to Bayside when he appeared in the 2020 reboot.
Leanna Creel as Tori Scott
Leanna Creel had an interesting introduction to acting. At the beginning of her career, she mainly landed roles in made-for-TV movies that allowed her to work alongside her identical sisters, Joy, and Monica. They were all in The Wonderful World of Disney: Parent Trap III and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon.
When she was older and independently booked a job on Beverly Hills 90210, Creel worked with Monica! Finally, in 1992, she got her own shot by landing Tori Scott, a love interest for Zack, on the last season of Saved by the Bell.
Leanna Creel Today
After the show ended, Creel had a few guest appearances before going to study at UCLA. There, she found a passion for photography and film. She decided to put her focus and talents more towards film production and directing. She has produced countless films, including the LGBTQIA+ cult classic But I’m Just a Cheerleader, and she co-produced 2001’s Get Over It, starring Kirsten Dunst.
In 2008, same-sex marriage became officially legal in the state of California. That was when Creel finally married her longtime partner, Rinat Greenberg. The pair share two sons.
Leah Remini as Stacey Carosi
With any multi-season sitcom, the characters have to make the coveted trip to some kind of beach! It’s basically a rule, and that’s exactly what happened during Saved by the Bell’s third season. We meet Zack’s girlfriend at the Malibu Sands Beach Club, Stacey Carosi, played by Leah Remini.
She started acting before landing this reoccurring role, appearing in Who’s the Boss? and starring in the main role of Living Dolls. In addition to those longer commitments, Remini had her fair share of guest star appearances, both before and after snagging the Saved by the Bell gig.
Leah Remini Today
After her arc ended on the show, Remini got a leading role on Fired Up before really hitting the motherload. She went on to book The King of Queens, opposite Kevin James. The show was on the air for nine years, which in TV time is closer to 45!
She married Angelo Pagan in 2003, and they have one daughter. In 2013, Remini was back in the spotlight for leaving the Church of Scientology and becoming an outspoken activist against it. She is currently slated as the host of the game show People Puzzler on the Game Show Network.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath
A few years after The King of Queens came to an end, Leah Remini was thrust back into the limelight for her departure from the Church of Scientology. She had been with the church from nine years old when her family joined until she left in 2013.
After her departure, she started publicly criticizing Scientology and even wrote a memoir about her experience. From 2016-2019, Remini hosted an A&E docuseries called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. She explored and shared other former members’ stories with the church, which drew mass amounts of criticism from the church itself.
Tori Spelling as Violet Bickerstaff
Tori Spelling came from an entertainment industry family, so acting was in her blood. She booked her first job at only six years old and continued to book guest star appearances and even a made-for-TV movie.
The writers of Saved by the Bell wanted Screech’s character to have his fair share of romantic drama to spice things up. Cue Tori Spelling. She was brought on for a multiple-episode arc as Violet Bickerstaff, a quirky, sweet nerd, to serve as a love interest for Screech during the show’s second season.
Tori Spelling Today
After her guest role on Saved by the Bell, Tori Spelling shot up to big-time fame with the role of Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210. She had this role for all ten seasons! In 2006, she married Dean McDermott, and they have five children together.
A year after getting married, they got their own reality show on Oxygen. Spelling reprised her role as Donna on the 2019 reboot, BH90210, and was the winner of 2020’s Celebrity Show-Off. She has published six books, almost all of which have brilliantly managed to include her name in a punny title.
Holland Taylor as Dean Susan McMann
Holland Taylor is a Hollywood legend, with one of the lengthiest filmographies we’ve ever laid eyes on! After many successful years in the theater, Taylor transitioned to television and film with 1980’s Bosom Buddies opposite Tom Hanks.
She followed that project up with several guest appearances and made for TV movies. In 1993, Taylor joined the cast of Saved by the Bell: The College Years as Dean Susan McMann. Since the gang had gone off to college without Mr. Belding, she served as the mentor for Zack Morris and his friends.
Holland Taylor Today
Holland Taylor was doing well for herself before Saved by the Bell but afterward was even better. She was able to showcase her dramatic and comedic skills in films like George of the Jungle, Legally Blonde, The Truman Show, the Spy Kids franchise, and Netflix’s To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.
When it came to television, Taylor followed up with The Naked Truth, The Practice, over 100 episodes of Two and a Half Men, Hollywood, and 2021’s The Chair. She and Sarah Paulson have been in a public relationship since 2015.
Peter Engel, the Executive Producer
Unless you are a super big television nerd, the name Peter Engel might be a new one for you. But take notes because he started producing American television programs in 1971 and never looked back. After a number of projects, he signed on as an executive producer of Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
This became Saved by the Bell, and Engel stayed on board with the project through the network change, sequel series, and TV series movies. During and in-between Saved by the Bell projects, Engel also managed to be the executive producer for TV series like California Dreams and USA High.
Peter Engel Today
After the Saved by the Bell saga, Engel continued to produce teen-focused television shows like Hang Time and City Guys. But he saw that it was time to transition to less explored territory: reality television. In 2004, he became the executive producer for the stand-up comic competition show, Last Comic Standing.
In 2015, he took notice that ‘90s shows were coming out with reboots that were getting good ratings, and he got to work. Flash forward to 2020, and Saved by the Bell has released its own reboot with Engel at the helm of the project.
Good Morning, Miss Bliss
Before it became Saved by the Bell, the original show aired on Disney Channel and was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss. It focused on the life of a junior high school teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana.
It was a unique perspective for a children’s program as the main character was an adult rather than the students in her class. The show only stayed on the air for one season before it was canceled. However, NBC’s network saw the potential and scooped it up to see if they could rework it into something.
Transition Into an NBC Show
NBC picked up the show and made it over into a slightly different program. Some characters were saved from the original and used in the new project, including Zack, Lisa, Screech, and Mr. Belding. However, the titular character of Miss Bliss was let go.
The network wanted to shift the focus onto the students themselves. Executive producer Peter Engel had his share of doubts when it came to these changes, especially the focus on the kids. But he decided to move forward with the show anyway because they were only guaranteed seven episodes.
Incorporating Even More Changes
Engel’s wife thought it was worth a shot, so who was he to argue! Engel even convinced showrunners to move the show location from Indianapolis to the more exciting Palisades area of Los Angeles, California.
He also encouraged them to film the episodes in front of a live studio audience to build more anticipation for the series. Then came the issue of the show’s name. Because the character of Miss Bliss had been written out of this new show, they had to come up with something completely different.
Landing on a New Name
The show’s senior producer Tom Tenowich brought forth a few name suggestions to Engel and NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff when the three of them met to discuss their show. Of all his suggestions, Saved by the Bell was the one that Tartikoff loved most.
Fun fact: Engel absolutely hated the name and thought they could come up with something much stronger. For whatever reason, maybe because he worked for NBC and had more of a say, Saved by the Bell was officially selected as the name of the project.
When Did Saved by the Bell Air?
Now that they had a name, it was time to finalize a theme song. Engel, who had been adamantly against the show’s title, was determined not to have it included in the theme song. He even spoke with the composing team and made them promise to leave out the phrase Saved by the Bell.
But he was unimpressed with their compositions. One of the composers didn’t keep his promise and included the show’s title. It turned out to be the perfect fit and became the official theme when they premiered on August 20, 1989.
Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years
They had picked a name and wrote a theme song, but what would they do with the episodes of Good Morning, Miss Bliss? Obviously, start calling it Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years! When Saved by the Bell earned rerun status, executives got creative.
The Good Morning, Miss Bliss series was included in the Saved by the Bell rerun package as essentially a season 0.5 prequel. Mark-Paul Gosselaar recorded an explanation that the Miss Bliss episodes were from an earlier time which transitioned into a retro version of the Saved by the Bell theme song.
Spawning Seemingly Endless Sequels
What does any good producer do with a successful project? Try to milk it for all it’s worth, obviously! Thus began the long list of sequel projects associated with the uber-successful Saved by the Bell franchise. First, like every notable ‘90s show, showrunners pushed for writers to create some made-for-TV movies.
They came up with both 1992’s Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style and 1994’s Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. Both boasted relatively high viewer numbers and featured some familiar faces like Gilbert Gottfried!
How Many Seasons of Saved by the Bell?
The show also inspired two spinoff shows! Saved by the Bell: The College Years followed many of the original characters in college but only stayed on the air for one season. The real success story came from Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which followed new students at Bayside High.
This series lasted for an astounding seven seasons, which was three more than the original series! The New Class was different in that almost every season featured completely new main characters, with only Mr. Belding and Screech reprising their roles for continuity.
Relevance for Today’s Pop Culture
Even before this reboot, Saved by the Bell and its cast members had managed to keep themselves relevant to the masses. Do their good looks have something to do with it? We aren’t going to sit here and say no… but it’s more than that!
Mario Lopez’s filmography is long but most interestingly, just lots of guest-starring roles appearing as himself. Same with Mark-Paul Gosselaar. But that’s nothing when compared to Justin Bieber rocking a T-shirt with Tiffani Thiessen’s face on it. It seems like there are big Bayside fans everywhere!
What’s the Reboot All About Anyway?
We keep mentioning a reboot, but what is it even about? Unlike other spinoffs and sequels, this one does take place back at Bayside High. Many of the original cast reprise their roles, just now as the adult versions, and with less of the spotlight on them.
Instead, the series more closely follows the adventures of their children who are attending the school that was the backdrop to all of their parents’ adventures. It features a more diverse cast than the original while sticking to its roots of addressing tough social topics.
Reprising Roles in the Reboot
We mentioned which of the original cast members appear in the reboot, but what are their roles with this show? Slater and Jessie are regulars on the series because they work at the school! Slater is the Bayside High athletic director, which perfectly ties into his original role from the ‘90s show.
Jessie, on the other hand, is the school’s guidance counselor after getting a doctorate in psychology. Zack became the Governor of California and guest stars multiple times with his wife, Kelly. Their son, Mac, is one of the students attending Bayside.