Dubbed "everybody's favorite principal," actor Dennis Haskins is best known for his role as Mr. Belding, Bayside High's principal, on the hit Saturday morning television series Saved by the Bell, which ran from 1989 to 1993. After Saved by the Bell, Haskins returned to small roles on multiple TV series, including Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother. In 2009, he released a karaoke CD, Karaoke with Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins A.K.A. Mr. Belding.
Early Life and Career
Dennis Haskins was born on November 18, 1950, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Haskins graduated in 1968 from Notre Dame High School, where he was an exceptional basketball player. He went on to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where, in addition to playing basketball, he joined the theater department and became a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Haskins thrived in college, becoming social chair of his fraternity and eventually entertainment chairman of the university itself.
After college, Haskins worked as a concert promoter, associating with bands such as Earth Wind and Fire and the Charlie Daniels Band. After a stint in the music industry, Haskins decided to give acting a shot and moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1980. He worked as a bit actor for a time, earning small roles on a number of television series, including The Dukes of Hazard and The Twilight Zone.
Playing Mr. Belding
It wasn't until 1988 that Haskins landed a recurring role: as Mr. Richard Belding, a junior high school principal, on a Disney series entitled Good Morning, Miss Bliss. The show lasted only 11 episodes on the Disney Channel, from 1987 to 1989. However, it was quickly picked up by NBC as an addition to the network's Saturday morning line-up. The series was recast and renamed Saved by the Bell, with many of the original series' actors joining the new show's cast, including Hayley Mills, who played the role of Miss Bliss; Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris; Lark Voorhies, who portrayed teen fashionista Lisa Turtle; and Dustin Diamond, the face of beloved nerd Samuel "Screech" Powers. The show became an instant hit NBC, with Haskins garnering personal fame for his lovable role as Bayside High's authoritative yet endearing principal.
The show lasted four seasons, running from 1989 to 1993, and its popularity spurred multiple spin-offs, including Saved by the Bell: The New Class, which ran from 1993 to 1999. Haskins continued to portray Mr. Belding throughout the series' entire run.
Post-'Saved by the Bell' Years
After Saved by the Bell, Haskins returned to small roles on multiple TV series, including Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother, as well as parts in made-for-TV movies.
A longtime fan of karaoke, Haskins released his own karaoke CD in 2009, Karaoke with Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins A.K.A. Mr. Belding. In 2012, he was spotted commissioning a wrestling match in New Jersey. While Haskins keeps himself busy when not on screen, he considers acting his greatest passion.
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