Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here? It’s a look at the career of Dennis Haskins, who played principal Mr. Belding on Saved by the Bell.
Principal Richard Belding was the only adult to make the transition from Good Morning, Miss Bliss to Saved by the Bell.1 Dennis Haskins played the role all the way through Saved by the Bell: The New Class, making him the longest serving cast member along with Dustin Diamond.
Mr. Belding serves as the “crusty old dean” archetype to foil the schemes of one Zack Morris and his cohort at Bayside High. He was the surrogate parent, except for the episodes where the plot was about how crappy the kids’ parents could be sometimes. However, Mr. Belding was an eccentric character, often going into asides from his personal life that bordered on inappropriate and switching his opinions in an instant. Were he 70 years older, there wouldn’t be much difference between Mr. Belding and Mr. Burns.
Dennis Haskins most recent pop culture moment happened two years ago. On May 6, 2012, Twitter exploded with “Hey, it’s that guy!” glee when Haskins was spotted as a test kitchen scientist on the season 5 episode of Mad Men “Lady Lazarus.” He has done bit parts since then (Jennifer Falls, A Million Ways to Die in the West), but this one caught the most attention.
Since the SbtB closed up shop in 2000, Dennis Haskins has been trying to ride the wave as long as possible. Going through his IMDB page reveals several reappearances and references to Mr. Belding on other TV shows and webseries. Perhaps the most upsetting product to come out of this is an album titled Karaoke with Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins A.K.A. Mr. Belding. I realize when you play a character for 12 years it may be difficult to let it go, but this is approaching Norma Desmond territory, particularly since he has done quite a bit of work before and after the show. The nostalgia train has to stop running at some point.
My favorite item from Dennis Haskins’ wikipedia page: he was a contestant on Press Your Luck and Scrabble. If anyone has information about either appearance, I would love to hear it.
- And that includes Zack’s dad, played by Robert Pine first then John Sanderford. ↵