"Saved by the Bell" on People Magazine
"All of us girls were trying a new hairspray product all the time," says Thiessen. "That what was in."
"We did mall tours, and our clothes got ripped as we were trying to exit the mall" — Mark-Paul
"We really were going through high school together. We had each other's backs." — Elizabeth
They left class back in the 90s, but the stars of the beloved sitcom will always have each other
Everyone has high school memories that make them cringe. But when you're Mario Lopez, those teen mistakes have been witnessed by millions. Exhibit A: the mullet. "I liked my hair long because I wanted to look like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon," he says of the flowing locks he sported as A.C. Slater on the hit sitcom Saved by the Bell from 1989 to 1994. "I didn't even know I had a mullet! Looking back, I guess it does qualify."
"It was a show for little kids. I didn't know it would develop a cult following," says Lopez (with the rest of the cast on July 19). "It still makes me laugh."
Yes, Mario, it was a mullet. And let's not forget the neon leotards and acid-washed denim. But 20 years after Saved by the Bell debuted, and long after those clothes left closets for good (we hope), the kids from TV's Bayside High are more popular than ever — thanks to the devotion of the tween, teen and twentysome-thing fans and nonstop reruns on TBS. So popular, in fact, that devotees — including late-night host Jimmy Fallon — get giddy at the thought of a class reunion. So on a hot July day in Los Angeles, People got the gang to regroup for the first time since the show wrapped. "When you're young you don't think, "This is something I'm going to cherish forever,'" says Tiffani Thiessen. "But I spent a lot of formative years on the show. We had a lot of firsts together."
As TV's first live-action Saturday-morning sitcom — it competed against Bugs Bunny — the show got off to a rocky start. "It was campy," recalls Mark-Paul Gosselaar. "No one wanted to admit that they watched it. We constantly thought we were being canceled." Soon, however, thousands of fans began mobbing the cast's mall appearances. Even so, their real-life growing pains were never tabloid fodder. "All of us dated at one point or another — it was incestuous!" says Gosselaar. "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, and Mario was supposed to side with someone. All that stuff you did in high school, like, 'How could you talk to him?'" Tiffani demurs. "Did we have crushes on our costars? Absolutely," she says. "But we were so young!"
"We're still very close for a cast that's known each other 20 years," says Gosselaar. "I think that will continue."
Despite the adolescent angst, the castmates look back on their school days with fondness. Says Gosselaar: "It's a good bunch of people. It makes me proud." Adds Elizabeth Berkley: "It was like family. This feels like picking up where we left off."
MARIO LOPEZ, 35
Character: A.C. Slater, jock. Lopez, who hosts Extra, was the first runner-up on Dancing with the Stars in 2006, and went on to appear on Broadway in A Chorus Line.
A.C.'s Moves: "Slater was supposed to be a bad boy, but my mom had put me in dancing, wrestling, playing drums, and it was incorporated into the character."
Slater Style: "It was a lot of Z. Cavaricci and silk shirts. At the time, I thought it was dope."
Cougar Fans: "Girls would have me sign their body parts. It wasn't just the girls — it was their moms!"
LARK VOORHIES, 35
Character: Lisa Turtle, fashionista. Voorhies, who divorced actor Miguel Coleman in 2003, now lives in Pasadena and runs a production company, Voorhies Entertainment.
Favorite Lisa Moment: "Any time she had to defend herself from Screech or campaign for a great credit line. That was her essence."
Their Own Class: "I wasn't able to go to my graduation or prom. Those moments we had to sacrifice, we made up for with each other."
Trendsetter: "I loved Lisa's sense of fashion. She wore bell-bottoms before bell-bottoms came back!"
ELIZABETH BERKLEY, 37
Character: Jessie Spano, brainiac. Married to artist Greg Lauren, Berkley has a role on CSI: Miami and runs Ask-Elizabeth, a self-help program for teen girls.
Best Memory: "The 'I'm so excited!' episode [when Jessie uses 'caffeine pills']. It was so extreme. We made a music video; we were thrilled!"
Curly Coif: "They diffused my hair, flipped it, teased it, sprayed it with hair spray. I practically went through a can of hair spray a show."
Leotard Lament: "I didn't mind them at the time. Now I'm like, 'Are you kidding me!'"
TIFFANI THIESSEN, 35
Character: Kelly Kapowski, cheerleader. Wed to actor Brady Smith, Thiessen will star in the USA network series White Collar.
Fond Memories: "Mark-Paul and I got to go to Paris [for a press tour]. We ate crepes, and my first sip of alcohol was with him. It felt at times like we were Barbie and Ken."
Keepsakes: "I have dolls of the cast. They're still in the box, in my garage. My mother told me to keep them nice."
No Romance: "Mark-Paul was like a brother!"
MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR, 35
Character: Zack Morris, troublemaker. The star of TNT's Raising the Bar has two children (Michael, 5, and Ava, 3) with his wife, Lisa Ann Russell.
It Takes a Village: "There was a family unity among us. You dabble in things as teenagers, but if I did something, Tiffani's mom would tell my mom."
Bye-Bye, Blond: "Getting back to my natural hair color took a while!" he says of his frosted locks. "I haven't dyed my hair since 1997."
Superstar Treatment: "At 16, I was hanging out in adult clubs. But I didn't abuse it, and neither did my castmates. I can't stress how good we were."
Once a goofy sidekick, Dustin Diamond, 32, is no longer close with his castmates. He appeared on Celebrity Fit Club and starred in a porn video leaked onto the Internet in 2006. Next up: a tell-all called Behind the Bell. "It's no holds barred," he says. "But the embarrassing parts are embarrassing for all of us, myself included."