Last night, actor Dennis Haskins—a.k.a. Mr. Belding—did a Reddit AMA in which he revealed some interesting tidbits about the decade-plus he spent on Saved by the Bell, in its various incarnations. Here are a few things we learned.
1. HASKINS’ REAL LAUGH IS AS HIGH-PITCHED AS MR. BELDING’S.
When asked if Mr. Belding’s trademark laugh on the show was real, Haskins admitted that “It used to be. I would laugh in a very high-pitched laugh. I was on Late Night With David Letterman in 1983, and I laughed at something David said. A friend of mine who saw the show said, 'One day, that laugh will make you famous.'”
2. THAT LAUGH IS PART OF WHAT LANDED HIM THE ROLE OF MR. BELDING.
“Cut to my audition for a thing called Good Morning, Miss Bliss and the character was called upon to laugh," Haskins said. “For some reason, I remembered what my friend had said about my laugh, and did it the way I would laugh, in that high-pitched tone. The writers asked if I could do that again. And that became a trademark. So while the laugh was originally mine, I proudly will it to Mr. Belding.”
3. HASKINS TWEAKED BELDING’S ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE.
Whenever he’d catch those zany Bayside students doing something wrong, Mr. Belding could be counted on to ask “What is going on here?” But the number of “Hey!”s he threw in front of that query was the result of a little ad-libbing. “Let me share something with all of you,” said Haskins. “The catchphrase ‘Hey! Hey! Hey! What is going on here?’ was written with only three hey's. Simply a line to be delivered. Our director, Don Barnhardt, used to tease the kids, and go ‘Heyheyheyheyhey’ in a descending tone of voice, like ‘everybody settle down.’ So in rehearsal, when I got that line, and to have fun with our director, I did it in the way that you hear it. The way I did it was a little different. And everybody laughed hard in rehearsal—and the rest is history.”
4. HE NEVER GOT TO EAT AT THE MAX.
Actually consuming the food at the totally tubular restaurant the kids of Bayside frequented was a no-no, both for Haskins and the rest of the cast. “We were told never to eat the food on-set, because it was all a prop,” Haskins said. “Having said that, anytime a cake was on the set as a prop, everybody had their fingers in it!”
5. HE HAD THE MOST FUN WORKING WITH DUSTIN DIAMOND.
When asked about his feelings toward Dustin “Screech” Diamond, Haskins said that “I worked with Dustin Diamond from when he was 11 years old until 20. Dustin and I actually became a team on The New Class. Dustin will always have a special place with me.” When pressed further with additional questions, he explained: “When the original show concluded, and we graduated the original class, the three guys went on to the College Years. Someone suggested that they continue to do the Saturday morning show, which is what we had always done. So I was asked to stay as Principal of Bayside High, as any principal would, and get a new class. It's real hard for a new group to come in and replace such a successful original group. But there were many good cast members in that show as well. I had the most fun doing comedy as a team with Dustin."
6. IN THE EARLY YEARS, THEY ALL HUNG OUT AFTER THE SHOW.
“With the original cast, we would all go out after the show—parents, cast, and producers—to Jerry's Deli, and then we'd hang out at Ed Debevic's,” Haskins said. “And frankly, I think hanging with everybody after the show helped make our cast closer on the show. Now, it's 25 years later, and everybody has families and their own circles of friends, as anybody would, so I don't get to see them as much as I would like, but I am happy for them.”
7. HASKINS DIDN’T SEE THE LIFETIME MOVIE.
When asked for his reaction to Lifetime’s recent Saved by the Bell expose, Haskins admitted that he has not seen it. “I will just refer you back to the last thing that Dustin has been saying—that he didn't write the book, that he had an hour conversation with somebody, who then turned around and wrote what you saw,” he explained. “Make your own judgments as to whether it was accurate or not. Because I did not watch it. I lived it, I didn't need to see somebody's version.”
8. NONE OF THE ACTORS GOT RICH FROM DOING SAVED BY THE BELL.
“None of us got rich financially from doing the show,” Haskins revealed, “but we were still blessed to do it, as it was our first steady job. I am grateful for all of that.”
9. MR. BELDING MAKES SWEET, SWEET MUSIC.
By way of introduction, Haskins noted that “Many of you probably know me as Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell. I'm also excited to let all of you know about two songs that Shooter Jennings produced for me, that will be coming out on Record Store Day! The record won't necessarily be in every store, since there are only 1000 limited edition copies. So reach out to your local store. National Record Store Day is April 18, 2015. You can read more about it in this article.”