Can you believe that it has been over 25 years since the first episode of Saved by the Bell aired on television back on August 20, 1989? It would be even longer than that if you include the Good Morning Miss Bliss episodes that aired on the Disney Channel from 1988 — 1989. Saved by the Bell grew to become the most popular live action children’s show on Saturday morning and started the television careers of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, and Tiffani Thiessen. The show would last through 1993 and would have two spin-off shows. Saved by the Bell: The College Years aired on primetime and was cancelled after 18 episodes, while Saved by the Bell: The New Class would last for seven seasons, though the cast would continue to change every year. You may think you know a lot about this classic sitcom, but here are ten things you may not know about Saved by the Bell.
1. Those awesome hairstyles did not come easily.
The hairstyles we saw on every episode of Saved by the Bell make look funny by today’s standards, but they were all the rage back in the 90’s. Mark-Paul Gosselaar had to dye his hair blonde before each and every episode, while Elizabeth Berkley would go through an entire can of hairspray after her hairdo was diffused, flipped, and teased. Mario Lopez grew his hair out like a mullet because he wanted it to look like Mel Gibson’s hair in Lethal Weapon.
2. Hey, that set looks familiar!
The Saved by the Bell set had only one classroom, which would be changed around each episode depending what it was needed for that week. In season 1, a classroom set was located where Mr. Belding’s office is located in later seasons. The sets have been used on other high school shows including That’s So Raven and iCarly. The name of the school on That’s So Raven is also called Bayside High.
3. The character names are from actual people.
Peter Engel was a producer and writer for Saved by the Bell and other teen shows including California Dreams and Hang Time. He based the characters’ names off of people he had actually met prior to making the series. Engel knew a producer by the name of Screech Washington and said he wanted to steal his name for a TV series. Engel’s son went to school with a boy named Slater and Lisa Turtle was a girl Engel once knew. Additionally, Engel worked with an editor at Universal by the name of Mr. Belding.
4. Zack and Slater as enemies?!
In early episodes of Saved by the Bell, Zack and Slater competed for the attention of the very beautiful Kelly Kapowski. They would try to best one another in order to win her heart. This was intended to be a continuing storyline on the series. However, Mario Lopez and Mark Paul Gosselaar got along very well off screen. The writers decided to add that chemistry into the show and by season two Slater would be more interested in dating Jessie than trying to go out with Kelly. Mark Paul and Mario continue to be friends to this day.
5. Leanna Creel is a triplet.
When additional episodes of Saved by the Bell were ordered and Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley decided not to renew their contracts, Leanna Creel was hired to fill the void and was 22 at the time she started filming the series. Creel is a triplet and her sisters are Monica and Joy. The three girls would star in two Parent Trap movies in 1989 alongside Good Morning, Miss Bliss star Haley Mills. Creel now runs a production company specializing in food and travel.
6. Kathy Ireland as a Nurse
We all remember the episode of Saved by the Bell when Zack falls head over heels for the new school nurse during flu shot season. The character was played by Nancy Valen, who would go on to star in Baywatch in 1997. The part was going to be played by supermodel Kathy Ireland. Unfortunately, she was fired after the table read and dress rehearsal because she acted so poorly.
7. The cast were actually teenagers.
Most shows about high school students have actors in their early to mid-twenties playing them. For example, most of the cast of Friday Night Lights was around the age of 25 when shooting the first season of the series. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, and Lark Voorhies were all 15 during season 1. Mario Lopez was 16 and Elizabeth Berkley was 17 years old. Dustin Diamond was the youngest cast member and was only 12 when the show began production.
8. Royalties from the show?
When a popular show goes into syndication, the cast will receive some type of royalties each time a rerun of the series airs on television. The amount of money will decrease after each additional airing and after the episode has aired more than 13 times, the residuals the cast receives declines tremendously. When Dustin Diamond filed for bankruptcy in 2001, it was reported that he was making roughly $65,000/year just on Saved by the Bell reruns. That annual salary is higher than the national average.
9. Young Artist Awards
The entire cast of Saved by the Bell was nominated for Young Artist Awards. Lark Voorhies won in 1990 and 1993, Mario Lopez took home the award in 1993, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar was the victor in 1991. Tori Spelling received two nominations for her guest-starring role of Violet. The series was even nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 1992 for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction.
10. The series lives on today.
Saved by the Bell may not be airing any new episodes, but the series is still alive in comic book form. In 2014, digital comic books featuring our six favorite characters began being produced. A previous version had been created in print during the show’s heyday and featured storylines where Kelly becomes a model and Screech can control the weather. The comic only lasted for seven issues. In 2013, Bayside! The Musical! The unauthorized parody of Saved by the Bell debuted in New York City and was voted a must see by The New York Times. Due to huge popularity the show’s run has been extended six times. It contains strong language and adult situations.
Do you know a fun fact about Saved by the Bell? Let us know in the comments section below.
[Photo via NBC]