22 Fun Facts About Saved by the Bell

NBC
NBC

When I wake up in the morning… I turn on my TV and watch Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski and Screech get into crazy shenanigans. From 1989 to 1993, Saved by the Bell captured the hearts and minds of America's youth. And now, still airing in syndication more than a quarter-century later, the once-critically panned teen sitcom has become a cultural phenomenon. Here are 22 things you might not know about Saved by the Bell.

1. SAVED BY THE BELL BEGAN AS A DISNEY SERIES STARRING HAYLEY MILLS.

In 1987, NBC aired the pilot for Good Morning, Miss Bliss, a teen sitcom featuring Hayley Mills (star of The Parent Trap and Pollyanna) as sixth grade teacher Miss Bliss. In the pilot, which only aired once on NBC, the main students were played by Brian Austin Green (who would go on to star with Tiffani Amber Thiessen on Beverly Hills, 90210), Family Matters' Jaleel White, and seaQuest DSV’s Jonathan Brandis.

NBC ultimately decided not to pick up the series, but the Disney Channel agreed to air Good Morning, Miss Bliss for one season. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle), and Dustin Diamond (Samuel “Screech” Powers) joined the cast. Good Morning, Miss Bliss ran for 13 episodes before being dropped by Disney and picked back up by NBC. NBC gave Good Morning, Miss Bliss a significant facelift—aging up the students, adding Tiffani Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano), and Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) to the cast, and shifting the focus away from the teachers to create the Saved by the Bell audiences came to know and love.

2. MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR, MARIO LOPEZ, AND DUSTIN DIAMOND ARE THE ONLY ACTORS TO APPEAR IN ALL 86 EPISODES OF THE SHOW.

If you include the episodes formerly known as Miss Bliss, only Gosselaar and Diamond hold this distinction. Diamond is also the only original cast member to appear as a regular in all Saved by the Bell spinoffs and movies.

3. ELIZABETH BERKLEY AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF KELLY KAPOWSKI. 

Elizabeth Berkley was in the running to play Kelly Kapowski, Zack Morris' dream girl. While the role ultimately went to Thiessen (because, of course it did), the producers liked Berkley so much they created the character Jessie Spano specifically for her.

4. BERKLEY WASN'T ALWAYS THRILLED WITH HOW HER CHARACTER WAS PORTRAYED.

Despite having the role of Jessie written expressly for her, Berkley wasn't always a fan of her (literally) buttoned-up persona. In a 2013 interview on Bethenny, Berkley said of her character's wardrobe, “I didn't like it because I felt like as a young woman, just because you are a feminist, why can't you also dress in things that make you feel girly and empowered?" Especially when Kelly and Lisa got to romp about in next-to-nothing. “Right the bikinis,” Berkley said. “They used to put me in a one piece. I'm sorry, but at 16 you don't want to be the girl in the one piece with baggy shorts.”

5. MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR AND LARK VOORHIES DATED FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE SHOW'S RUN.

While Kelly Kapowski held the keys to Zack Morris' heart, Lark Voorhies had Mark-Paul Gosselaar's on lock. The couple dated for three years, including during the filming of Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style. In 2009, Gosselaar told People that “All of us dated at one point or another—it was incestuous!"

6. GOSSELAAR HAD TO DYE HIS HAIR EVERY TWO WEEKS DURING FILMING.

Gosselaar, a natural brunette, became well acquainted with bleach during his years on Saved by the Bell. He admitted to People that, “Getting back to my natural color took a while! I haven't dyed my hair since 1997.”

7. MARIO LOPEZ CREDITS SLATER’S DO (OR DON’T) TO MEL GIBSON.

“I liked my hair long because I wanted to look like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon," Lopez told People. “I didn't even know I had a mullet! Looking back, I guess it does qualify.”

8. THERE WAS NO SWEARING ALLOWED ON THE SET.

In order to maintain the show’s wholesome feel, executive producer Peter Engel put a moratorium on cursing on the set. In an interview with MarkPaulGosselaar.net, Gosselaar expressed his relief at being able to let loose a bit while filming the 1998 movie Dead Man on Campus. “It was nice to actually swear on the set,” Gosselaar said. “It was like, 'Ooh, I can say that?' We weren't allowed to swear on the Saved by the Bell set. We were very restricted. It had to be a very clean show, all the way around.”

9. KELLY AND JESSIE MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARED IN THE FINAL SEASON … UNTIL GRADUATION DAY.

After filming Saved by the Bell's final season, but before the episodes aired, NBC decided to double their episode order, a move that would require re-signing the entire cast. While the majority of the cast renewed their contracts, Thiessen and Berkley refused. Enter, Tori Scott.

To solve the lack of female lead—and love interest for Zack—problem, the show introduced a new character, tough girl new student Tori Scott (played by Leanna Creel). With no explanation, Tori joined the gang and Kelly and Jessie were never mentioned again. Until graduation, that is.

The show's finale, which featured the crew's high school graduation, was filmed before Thiessen and Berkley's exit. So Kelly and Jessie appear in their caps and gowns alongside their best buds. Conspicuously missing? You guessed it: Tori.

10. CHUCK KLOSTERMAN CALLS THIS "THE TORI PARADOX."

In his 2003 essay collection, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, writer Chuck Klosterman addresses the appearance/disappearance of Kelly, Jesse, and Tori, explaining that what began as "a desperate move" on the part of the show's producers actually became one of the most realistic things about the series. Dubbing it "The Tori Paradox," Klosterman explained:

On paper this seems idiotic, borderline insulting, and—above all—unreal. But the more I think back on my life, the more I've come to realize that the Tori Paradox might be the only element of Saved by the Bell that actually happened to me. Whenever I try to remember friends from high school, friends from college, or even just friends from five years ago, my memory always creates the illusion that we were together constantly, just like those kids on Saved by the Bell. However, this was almost never the case. Whenever I seriously piece together my past, I inevitably uncover long stretches where somebody who (retrospectively) seemed among my closest companions simply wasn't around. I knew a girl in college who partied with me and my posse constantly, except for one semester in 1993-she had a waitressing job at Applebee's during that stretch and could never make it to any parties. And even though we all loved her, I can't recall anyone mentioning her absence until she came back. And sometimes I was the person cut out of life's script.

11. ERIC DANE, DENISE RICHARDS, TORI SPELLING, AND OTHERS GUEST-STARRED.

Eric Dane (whom you probably know best as Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Mark Sloan) appeared as a volleyball opponent at the Malibu Sands Beach Club in a 1991 episode. Denise Richards also made an appearance at the Malibu Sands Beach Club, as a girl infatuated with Slater. Tori Spelling (whose dad, Aaron, was one of the show’s producers) had a recurring role as Violet Anne Bickerstaff, a love interest for Screech. Christine Taylor, Scott Wolf, Leah Remini and others also had guest-starring roles.

12. THE SHOW’S SET IS ALIVE AND WELL, AND STILL BEING UTILIZED BY THE DISNEY CHANNEL.

Following Saved by the Bell's cancelation, the set was never completely struck down. You can catch glimpses of Bayside High School in reruns of That's So Raven (where the school is also named Bayside High) and Nickelodeon's iCarly (where it's redubbed Ridgeway Middle School).

13. THERE'S A SAVED BY THE BELL MUSICAL.

And it's a total joke. In September 2013, Bayside! The Musical!—which is described on its website as “the unauthorized, hilarious, and raunchy musical parody of TV’s Saved By The Bell,” premiered at New York City's Theater80 to surprisingly positive reviews. The “tacky, wacky and totally Zacky” show consists of 17 musical numbers and answers such burning questions as: Will Zack and Kelly break up? Will Slater quit wrestling forever? Who will develop an incurable caffeine addiction? And, Will Screech die?!

Bayside! The Musical! is still running, but only through August, so get your tickets today!

14. IT’S ALSO A COMIC BOOK.

In 2014 Roar Comics released a comic book prequel that sent Zack, Kelly, Jessie, Slater, Lisa, and Screech "back to freshman year in all-new comic book adventures at good ol' Bayside High! Mid-terms, hangin' at The Max, getting that first date, escaping Mr. Belding's detention hall... Experience all the ups and downs of high school in the year 2014 with some old familiar friends.”

15. MR. BELDING’S CATCHPHRASE WAS PARTIALLY DENNIS HASKINS’ OWN INVENTION.

When asked about his “What is going on here?” catchphrase during a recent Reddit AMA, Dennis Haskins shared that, “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.”

16. DUSTIN DIAMOND'S FIRST ATTEMPT AT A TELL-ALL MEMOIR WAS DROPPED BY HIS PUBLISHER.

Diamond secured a deal with Gotham Books to write a “salacious” tell-all memoir about his time on Saved by the Bell in 2009, for which he was awarded a six-figure advance. However, Gotham backed out after a series of unfortunate events. According to the New York Observer, Diamond's ghostwriter, Alan Goldsher, was first taken off the project due to “scheduling issues.” Then, Gotham allegedly deemed the completed manuscript unpublishable—something Diamond's literary agent, Jarred Weisfeld, denies.

“That’s 100 percent bogus,” Weisfeld told the Observer, saying that scrapping the project was a mutual decision. “It wasn’t the right home for the book. Sometimes people don’t gel. There were no problems whatsoever—just, things didn’t gel. If things don’t gel, you stop and move on. I love Gotham Books and Penguin, and Patrick Mulligan is a great editor. I look forward to selling them books in the future. This one just wasn’t meant to be.”

17. DIAMOND'S BOOK EVENTUALLY SAW THE LIGHT OF DAY.

In September 2009, Behind the Bell became a reality after being picked up by the small, Montreal-based Transit Publishing. A casual reading (heck, a quick skim) reveals that Diamond did his best to take down his former cast mates. The book caused a lot of backlash, both with fans of the show and its former stars. “It is negative,” Gosselaar stated of Behind the Bell in 2014. “That I must say. Everything I've heard about his book is it is negative. I don't remember those things. My experience on the show was very positive.”

18. DIAMOND CLAIMS HE NEVER APPROVED THE BOOK.

In a 2013 interview with OWN, Diamond described Behind the Bell as “another disappointment of mine.” Though he admits that there are some truths in the book, he also says that many of the more salacious details were based on throwaway comments he made to his ghostwriter, which he says were “turned into factual trash-talking about everybody. I have nothing but good thoughts and memories towards everybody. I expected that I was going to be sent a copy to proofread and okay … and I was sent a copy, ‘Oh, this is done.’ What? Oh man, there’s going to be fallout from that.”

19. HASKINS WASN’T PLEASED ABOUT BEING LEFT OUT OF A 2009 REUNION.

In 2009, People gathered Gosselaar, Thiessen, Lopez, Berkley, and Voorhies for a Saved By the Bell reunion cover story, in which Gosselaar noted that “We're still very close for a cast that's known each other 20 years.” Well, all except for Screech and Mr. Belding...

In a 2013 interview with Parade, Haskins expressed frustration at being left out of the reunion. When asked about the possibility of a cast reunion, Haskins said, "People magazine did something with five cast members, but they didn’t even talk about Mr. Belding, and Screech was kind of exiled because of his book. That’s still not the seven of us. Whatever you want to talk about, that show was six students and the principal. They were the heart of the show.”

That same year, Haskins surprised Thiessen during a 2013 segment on The Today Show. The result was, well, awkward.

20. THE UNAUTHORIZED SAVED BY THE BELL MOVIE WAS A FLOP.

Though it generated plenty of headlines and “things we learned” stories after it aired, only 1.6 million people tuned into Lifetime last Labor Day to watch The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story (which Diamond produced, though both he and Lifetime denied that it was based on Behind the Bell).

21. A.C. SLATER GOT HIS OWN WEB SERIES.

Notice we said A.C. Slater and not Mario Lopez? In 2006, Lopez's Saved by the Bell character's storyline continued with a five-episode Web series titled 28 Day Slater. The premise? Every February, an implant in Lopez's brain would trigger him to believe that he was, in fact, A.C. Slater for a full 28 days. Mullet and tight-fitting Ts included. Former NBC President Brandon Tartikoff, who passed away in 1997, was the only person who knew how to disable the implant.

22. BERKLEY’S FAVORITE EPISODE IS “THE CAFFEINE PILL INCIDENT.”

When asked about her favorite memory from the show, Berkley didn’t hesitate in responding, “The ‘I'm so excited!’ episode [when Jessie uses 'caffeine pills']. It was so extreme. We made a music video; we were thrilled!"

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

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Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

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Apple

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Sony

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Sony

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Martha Stewart

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Jashen

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Evachill

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Gourmia

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Townew

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FenSens

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Noerden

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14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.