From Serious Flings to On-Set Fights: What Really Happened Behind The Scenes Of ‘Saved By The Bell’


 

If you’re a 90s kid, you’ve heard all about Saved By The Bell and the kids of Bayside High. Just a heads up — these secrets may ruin your childhood, but if you’re prepared, check out 25 behind-the-scenes secrets that you never knew…

A.C. Slater Was Originally Vinny Barbarino

During the casting process of A.C. Slater, the show’s producers originally had a different character in mind until they met Lopez. During an episode of the Industry Standard podcast, Engel revealed that “Slater was supposed to be Vinny Barbarini [sic] with a leather jacket,” like in Welcome Back, Kotter. “Italian kid, who was a street kid, who was an Army brat.” As far as A.C.’s permed mullet goes, Lopez told People that he “wanted to look like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon… I didn’t even know I had a mullet!”

A.C. Slater Was Originally Vinny Barbarino

Voorhies’ Personal Issues

Growing up in the spotlight can definitely have its effects. While Lisa Turtle ruled Bayside High with her sass and style, Lark Voorhies’ life didn’t pan out as smoothly post-SBTB. In fact, Voorhies publicly battled with her mother after she revealed that Lark was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In 2015, Voorhies eloped with Jimmy Green, a music producer. Consequently, the actress’ mother filed a restraining order against him for being a gang affiliate and threatening Voorhies’ safety. While the actress defended her then-husband in an interview, she ultimately filed for divorce shortly after.

Voorhies’ Personal Issues

Mark-Paul Gosselaar ‘Juiced’

Dustin Diamond, aka “Screech”, not only accused Gosselaar of using illicit substances in their dressing rooms, but he also hinted that the actor used performance-enhancing medication to buff up before Saved By The Bell: The College Years. Diamond wrote, “He [Mark-Paul] suddenly exploded with manliness, loading 25 pounds of muscle on his once-scrawny frame in, oh, about a month.” Gosselaar denied these claims and dismissed Diamond’s accusations as just pure negativity.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar ‘Juiced’

Lopez’s Other Infidelities

Mario’s marriage in 2004 to Ali Landry only lasted a couple of weeks. In his memoir, Lopez wrote that he “got inebriated and a little too friendly with a young lady on spring break at one of the stops in some university party town.” It wasn’t until after the wedding that Landry found about the bachelor party scandal, and left Lopez. His long-time relationship with Dancing With the Stars‘ Karina Smirnoff also ended due to infidelity. Understandably, Lopez’s current wife put a cheating clause in their prenuptial agreement in hopes to break the cycle.

Lopez’s Other Infidelities

Dustin Was Significantly Younger

Diamond was 12 years old when he was hired to play Screech, which Engel was unaware of. Had he known, there’s really no way Diamond would have gotten the part. The big age gap could have been a factor as to why things transpired the way they had. In his memoir, Lopez dishes about Diamond’s crude behavior on set. Not everyone got along with Dustin as “he was one of those dorky kids who thought it was hilarious to take Polaroids of his [privates] and leave the photos all over the set.”

Dustin Was Significantly Younger

Diamond Has Been Exiled

With his young age and childish antics, it seems as though Diamond was only just tolerated by the rest of the cast. Although the rest of the Bayside High actors have remained close over the years, it’s really no secret that Diamond has lost touch with pretty much all of them excluding Mario Lopez. The actor was even left out of the show’s 20th anniversary reunion in 2009. His tell-all memoir was essentially just the final nail in the coffin, as it seems like there’s no going back…

Diamond Has Been Exiled

They Partied Young

Saved By The Bell was an instant hit and the cast members reached their peak of fame in no time. With this rise to fame came some partying, of course. The cast members were known for partying at a young age and getting into adult clubs before they were even legal. “At 16, I was hanging out in adult clubs. But I didn’t abuse it, and neither did my cast-mates. I can’t stress how good we were,” Gosselaar revealed.

They Partied Young

Gosselaar Bleached His Hair

You might be shocked to find out that Gosselaar isn’t actually a natural blonde! In fact, the Zack Morris actor had to bleach his hair every two weeks or so in order to keep up with his character’s signature look. Dyeing his hair took such a toll that “getting back to my natural color took a while,” Gosselaar revealed in an interview with People. “I haven’t dyed my hair since 1997… I’m surprised I have hair! I can’t believe I have hair now.”

Gosselaar Bleached His Hair

Elizabeth Berkeley Was Supposed to Play Kelly

Let’s be real — Tiffani Thiessen was and is the perfect Kelly Kapowski. Like a true ’90s icon, she was every teenage boy’s crush. She basically had them all drooling. Before producers chose her for the part, though, the Bayside High cheerleader/Zack Morris’ love interest came down to three different actresses: Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Jennie Garth. Although Thiessen landed that role, the producers really loved Berkeley and ultimately created a role specifically for her: Jessie Spano.

Elizabeth Berkeley Was Supposed To Play Kelly

No Swearing On Set

As creator and producer of the show, Peter Engel reportedly banned any and all kinds of swearing on set. Being that the Saturday morning show was about a bunch of naïve and wholesome kids, Engel made an effort to maintain that image off-screen as well as on-screen. Despite the drama that went on behind the scenes, not a single curse word was uttered. While this rule may have been a bit strict, it kept the teenage actors from getting too rowdy.

No Swearing On Set

The Cast Was Underpaid

Saved by the Bell is one of the most popular kids’ shows of all time. Of course, though, producers didn’t realize how much of a big hit it would actually become. While it was the first non-animated series to become a massive hit on Saturday mornings, the cast members didn’t make the greatest deals at the time. In fact, they barely get paid from the show’s syndication deals. According to an interview with Gosselaar, the cast “made really bad deals. It is what it is. You move on, you learn. Great experience.”

The Cast Was Underpaid

It Was Originally A Different Show

Saved By The Bell was originally titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss. Originally inspired by the then-NBC president’s sixth grade teacher, Miss Bliss, he asked Engel to create a show about her. After watching the pilot, though, NBC made the decision not to pick it up. Instead, Disney Channel took a chance and ultimately aired a 13-episode season from ’88-’89, recasting most of the roles and making the students a couple of years older. Due to its low ratings, however, the show was cancelled after just one season.

The Series Was Originally A Different Show

Mario Lopez Was Accused Of Assault

We all know Mario Lopez as the charming host for Extra. Before that, though, he was running Bayside High as A.C. Slater. His on-screen girlfriend, Jessie Spano, constantly schooled him about treating women with respect, yet it doesn’t seem like the actor himself took any notes. In 1993, during the show’s prime, Lopez was accused of assault by two different women. Due to the lack of evidence, prosecutors dismissed the claims. According to Diamond’s memoir, however, NBC execs paid one of the accusers to “keep her mouth shut.”

Mario Lopez Was Accused Of Assault

Morris Is Bueller

If you’re a true Saved By The Bell fan, you may have noticed that Zack Morris kind of resembles someone else that we know and love — Ferris Bueller. After all, they were both teens that skipped school and stopped time to talk straight to the camera. It turns out that Mark-Paul was actually inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and essentially based his own character off of the original rebel. Gosselaar has revealed that people believe he invented the classic ‘time-out’ move when it was really just taken from his idol: Ferris Bueller!

Morris Is Bueller

Is The Show Cancelled Yet?

We’ve already established that Saved By The Bell basically ruled our childhoods. The cast didn’t have as much faith, though. In fact, they just assumed that the show would be cancelled at the end of each season. During an interview with talk-show host, Jimmy Fallon, Gosselaar revealed that “every year we thought we’d be cancelled. At the end of [each] season, we all left, we said goodbye to each other. And that’s why every season my hairstyle was so radically different.”

Is The Show Cancelled Yet?

Lark Voorhies Skipped Prom & Graduation

The opportunity cost of fame and fortune aren’t often discussed, but they’re very real. Like many young women who get into show business in their teen years, Lark Voorhies had to give a lot up for a shot at fame. She was forced to skip her high school’s prom and graduation because she was working on the show. That being said, these are things she ticked off her bucket list when filming these events with her costars on the show.

Lark Voorhies Skipped Prom & Graduation

The Origin of the Names

Saved By The Bell has many unique names that people might not realize were inspired by people that Peter Engel knew in real life. Screech Washington was a producer with an unforgettable name that Engel met once, while Zack is what one of his buddies called his son. Furthermore, Lisa Turtle was one of his classmates in school, Slater was someone who Engel’s son went to school with, and Mr. Belding was an editor Engel worked with.

The Origin of the Names

Less Lucrative Than You’d Think

Saved By The Bell was immensely popular, but this wasn’t shared with the cast. It was a tiny Saturday morning show for kids, Gosselaar later recalled, and this meant the network didn’t pay them very much. “We made really bad deals,” he said. “Poor deals, back then. It is what it is. You move on, you learn. Great experience.” Luckily for the cast, for the most part, they have remained relevant in show business.

Less Lucrative Than You’d Think

Reusing the Set

Although many missed this, the classroom in Saved By The Bell was repurposed for each scene, even though things moved around so it looked different — sometimes the same work appears on the walls! It was also filmed on the same set as many other shows, including That’s So Raven, iCarly, and more. As for the outside, it’s of Grant High School in California, which has also been used for shows like the Secret Life of the American Teenager and American Vandal.

Reusing the Set

Another Season?

Not all of the original cast members appeared in the last season, which is perplexing. There’s a good reason for this, as NBC filmed one last episode before deciding they wanted more episodes. At that point, though, Thiessen and Berkley had signed on other projects so they didn’t appear on the whole season. “Tiffani had an offer to go with Aaron Spelling for 90210 and Elizabeth, I didn’t know it was going to be Showgirls, wanted to do movies,” Engel explained. In the show, they randomly reappeared at graduation.

Another Season?

Tori Scott’s Origins

Faced with not having Thiessen or Berkley for the final season, producers made a lot of changes. This included Tori Scott, played by Leanna Creel, and she becomes Zack’s love interest rapidly after appearing on the screen. Audiences surely thought this was odd, especially seeing as Kelly was his love interest before she vanished along with Jessie, but it appears they had no choice than to divert attention away from two missing female leads with this new character.

Tori Scott’s Origins

Some Say Tori Scott Was Named After Spelling’s Daughter

The late Aaron Spelling is regarded as one of the greatest TV producers of all time, due in no small part to shows like Beverly Hills, 90210. Spelling’s own daughter, Tori Spelling, appeared in several episodes of Saved By The Bell, and some say this is thanks to his influence. He was so immensely powerful on TV at the time that some say Tori Scott is named after Spelling’s daughter. While we can’t confirm or deny that, it’s an interesting theory!

Some Say Tori Scott Was Named After Spelling’s Daughter

Spin-Offs Only Succeeded When They Were Together

The spin-off Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style was a made-for-TV movie that became a hit for NBC. Based on this success, the network ordered Saved By The Bell: The College Years for primetime, which followed Screech and A.C. to a university in California. Engel regretted not taking all six kids to college, though, and the show didn’t last. It was simply too different, he later reflected. “I think we lost some of our — what’s that work? — innocence.”

Spin-Offs Only Succeeded When They Were Together

Gosselaar’s First Wife Was an Extra

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, it’s been stated, had his share of love affairs on the set of Saved By The Bell, but it’s thanks to the show that he got married to his first wife! She was an extra on set that he met while they were filming the show, which must have seemed like a dream come true. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and they eventually got divorced, but Gosselaar found love again! He’s currently married to Catriona McGinn, with whom he has a son named Dekker Edward.

Gosselaar’s First Wife Was an Extra

True Bromance

According to the script, Zack and Slater were supposed to butt heads and fight for Kelly’s love. That would have doubtlessly made for great TV drama, but we didn’t see that. This didn’t happen in the end solely because the writers noticed the off-screen bromance unfolding before their very eyes between the two actors. Truly, Gosselaar and Lopez hit it off so well that everyone was convinced they should keep them besties. So Zack was able to get the girl and keep his best friend, too.

True Bromance

Thiessen and Berkley Weren’t In The Final Season

According to Engel, the show’s creator, “We had already shot the graduation and that was supposed to be the end,” but NBC ended up ordering more episodes to be made. “We were supposed to end and not do another season… So we shot the graduation but Tiffani had an offer to go with Aaron Spelling for 90210 and Elizabeth, I didn’t know it was going to be Showgirls, wanted to do movies. So we didn’t re-sign them because we couldn’t re-sign them.”

Thiessen and Berkley Weren’t In The Final Season

Serious Flings

Even with all these behind-the-scenes hookups, though, there was still at least one serious relationship during the show run. Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski may have been an item at Bayside High for quite a while, but in real life, things worked out a little differently. In fact, Mark-Paul Gosselaar (aka Zack Morris) and Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa Turtle) dated seriously for about three years while the show was filming. The whole cast was dating one another, but it seems as though a casual fling just wasn’t enough for these on-screen childhood BFF’s.

Serious Flings

The Whole Cast Dated

You can only imagine the amount of hormones on a set full of teenagers. With that being said, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that they all ended up dating one another. According to Mark-Paul Gosselaar, “all of us dated at one point or another… Sometimes the girls would gang up on the guys. Tiffani and Elizabeth would hate me, and then they’d hate Lark because Lark was talking to me…” Tiffani Thiessen also confirmed that there were definite crushes on set, but “we were so young!”

They All Dated Each Other

Serious Flings

Even with all these behind-the-scenes hookups, though, there was still at least one serious relationship during the show run. Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski may have been an item at Bayside High for quite a while, but in real life, things worked out a little differently. In fact, Mark-Paul Gosselaar (aka Zack Morris) and Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa Turtle) dated seriously for about three years while the show was filming. The whole cast was dating one another, but it seems as though a casual fling just wasn’t enough for these on-screen childhood BFF’s.

Serious Flings

On-Set Fights

With all the different flings and hookups, it was only natural that some on-set fights would occur once in a while. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gosselaar revealed that “sometimes we loved each other and sometimes we hated each other. There were moments where Peter Engel — the show’s producer — had to sit us down and say, ‘Guys we have to film a show here,’ because sometimes we weren’t talking to each other.” Then again, with all the teenage hormones and emotions filling the set, who could blame them for the occasional squabble?

On-Set Fights

Dustin Diamond’s Tell-All Book

Dustin Diamond (aka Screech) wrote a memoir, Behind The Bell, making wild claims about the show and his fellow cast members. They were quick to dismiss his revelations, so it’s no surprise that Diamond was further alienated from his former co-stars…

Dustin Diamond’s Tell-All Book

Diamond’s Ghostwriter

Alright, so — Dustin’s name may have been written on the cover of his so-called memoir but according to the actor himself, “it wasn’t me, I didn’t write this. I was just as shocked and appalled.” In 2016, Mario Lopez welcomed his former co-star for an interview to discuss the book in an attempt to clear the air, as the book did cause a bit of commotion. All that interview really told us, though, was that Diamond was barely a part of the writing process and that his ghostwriter seemed to exaggerate and distort his recollections.

Diamond Denies The Claims

Dustin’s Homemade Film

In 2006, Diamond directed and released a homemade lewd film. Although Diamond claimed that the video was a stunt and a way to make money, it caused a lot of controversy. During an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Diamond reported that he wasn’t actually in the tape himself. “I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to really put myself out there. I got a stunt person to come in. I thought, what if this thing makes $3 million?” This thought process didn’t really go over well with the general public, though.

Dustin’s Homemade Film

Dustin Did Time

Dustin may have played an innocent, nerdy teen on-screen but the actor’s personality in real life hardly emulates his character’s. The actor behind doe-eyed Samuel ‘Screech’ Powers was actually sent to jail for four months in 2015. He was charged with three misdemeanors including second-degree recklessly endangering safety, carrying a concealed weapon, and disorderly conduct. According to Diamond’s statement, he was defending his girlfriend after she was insulted and assaulted in a bar brawl, and the wounds were reportedly not serious.

Dustin Did Time

Thiessen Caught Lopez Red-Handed

Lopez is no stranger to infidelity. In his autobiography, Just Between Us, he admits to cheating on Thiessen when they dated in 1991. According to Peter Engel, Mario “was in his dressing room, making out with an extra, and Tiffani came in, catching him red-handed. She was wearing his letter jacket and, in a rage, ripped it off and threw it at him. After that, she ran out.” But Thiessen wasn’t the only victim of Lopez’s cheating…

Thiessen Caught Lopez Red-Handed

Thiessen’s First Drink

According to Gosselaar, the cast members didn’t party too hard but that’s not to say that they didn’t have a little fun. Thiessen admitted to a first that happened while the show was still filming. During a press tour in Paris, she had her first drink. “Mark-Paul and I got to go to Paris,” Thiessen said in an interview. “We ate crepes, and my first sip” of a drink was with Gosselaar. “It felt at times like we were Barbie and Ken.” Yeah. That or the great Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski…

Thiessen’s First Drink

The Whole Cast Dated

You can only imagine the amount of hormones on a set full of teenagers. With that being said, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that they all ended up dating one another. According to Mark-Paul Gosselaar, “all of us dated at one point or another… Sometimes the girls would gang up on the guys. Tiffani and Elizabeth would hate me, and then they’d hate Lark because Lark was talking to me…” Tiffani Thiessen also confirmed that there were definite crushes on set, but “we were so young!”

They All Dated Each Other