Saved By the Bell
“The people who recognize me fall into two categories. If they remember when $5 would pretty much fill a gas tank, they’re fans of 'NYPD Blue.' If however, they consider $5 fair payment for a gallon of gas and a latte, they know me from 'Saved By the Bell.’” Mark-Paul Gosselaar
American actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar attained teen idol status thanks to his portrayal of the adorable troublemaker Zack Morris on the popular NBC series “Saved By the Bell” (1989-1993). He won a Young Artist Award for his work on the show and reprised the role in the spin-off series “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” (1993-1994) and the TV movies “Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style” (1992) and “Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas” (1994). Despite his TV success, Gosselaar had trouble finding work after the demise of the show. Stints as both a host and creative consultant on the brief-lived game show “Brains and Brawn” (1993) and performances in such B-movies as “Twisted Love” (1995) and “Kounterfeit” (1996) failed to re-launch his career. Eventually, after earning some notice in the 1998 comedy film “Dead Man on Campus” and starring in two short-lived series, Gosselaar bounced back as detective John Clark on the popular ABC police drama “NYPD Blue” (2001-2005). He stated, “This is a dream role for me. This is more close to who I really am than the characters I played in 'Dead Man On Campus' or 'Saved By the Bell.' There are parts of this character that are certainly different as well. But, this is me. This is what I think I am good at. In the industry, nobody saw that. It was tough for me to get to this point.”
Gosselaar can currently be seen as Jerry Kellerman in the drama series “Raising the Bar” (TNT, 2008).
Off camera, in 2005, Gosselaar participated in the Far West Championships for track cycling and won the Category 4/5 Sprint Championship event at the Encino Velodrome. He also enjoys weight lifting, skiing, surfing, football and Tai kwon do. Gosselaar is fluent in Dutch. He has two dogs, Tala and Fleur, and a horse named Verano. His favorite actors are Robert DeNiro, Alan Arkin and Jack Nicholson.
Gosselaar has been married to screen beauty Lisa Ann Russell since 1996. They have two young children, Michael Charles and Ava Lorenn. From 1989 to 1992, while working on “Saved By the Bell,” Gosselaar was romantically linked to costar Lark Voorhies. He also dated Tiffani Thiessen, who played his girlfriend and wife Kelly Kapowski on the series.
Childhood and Family:
Mark-Paul Harry Gosselaar was born on March 1, 1974, in Panorama City, California, to a Dutch father, Hans, and an Indonesian mother, Paula. He has an older brother named Mike and two older sisters, Sylvia and Linda. His parents and siblings were born in the Netherlands. His family moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California when Mark-Paul was a teenager. He attended Hart High School.
On August 26, 1996, Mark-Paul married actress Lisa Ann Russell (born on March 21, 1972) in Maui, Hawaii. The couple met on the set of “Saved by the Bell.” Their first child, son Michael Charles, was born on January 31, 2004, and their daughter, Ava Lorenn, was born two years later on May 7, 2006.
Mark-Paul is known by the nickname “M-P.” His father, however, prefers to call him “Koo Coo.” He has also been dubbed “Humpy.”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar started modeling when he was five years old. After appearing in TV commercials, the 12-year-old who first dreamt of being an architect, made the switch to acting with guest spots in the series “Highway to Heaven,” “The Twilight Zone” and Stingray” (all 1986), which was soon followed by appearances in “Charles in Charge,” “The Wonder Years” and “Punky Brewster” (1988). He made his TV movie debut in “Necessary Parties.”
Gosselaar's career gained a significant boost when he was cast in the costarring role of Zachary “Zack” Morris on the NBC well-liked teen series “Saved by the Bell.” While starring in the show (from 1989 to 1993), he became a favorite among young viewers and received several Young Artist nominations. He won one in 1991 in the category of Best Young Actor Starring in an Off-Primetime Series. He recreated the coveted role for the less successful spin-off “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” (1993-1994) and the TV films “Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style” (1992) and “Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas” (1994).
The California native next tried his hand at hosting with the short-lived NBC game show “Brains and Brawn” (1993), in which he also served as a creative consultant. After roles in “White Wolves: A Cry in the Wild II “ (1993) and the sport-themed “The St. Tammany Miracle” (1994), both of which he made while still on “Saved by the Bell,” Gosselaar managed to get roles in more movies, but most of the projects were low-budget and went straight to video release. Among them were “Twisted Love” (1995), “Sticks & Stones” (1996) and “Kounterfeit” (1996). He fared better on the small screen in “She Cried No” (1996), a dramatic made-for-TV film costarring Candace Cameron Bure, and as Steven Tyler in “Dying to Belong” (1997), opposite Hilary Swank.
After starring as Gina Phillips' boyfriend in the television movie “Born Into Exile” (1997), Gosselaar was brought back in the limelight thanks to his costarring role opposite Tom Everett Scott in the comedy “Dead Man on Campus” (1998), directed by Alan Cohn. In the movie, he portrayed sympathetic troublemaker Cooper Frederickson. Shortly thereafter, the handsome actor returned to series TV as a regular on the “Hyperion Bay” (1998-1999). The WB show, however, lasted only one season. He moved on to star in the youth-oriented political drama “D.C.” (2000), as Pete Komisky, but the series also had a short life.
The following year, Gosselaar starred with Marisol Nichols in the romantic film “The Princess & the Marine” (NBC), where he portrayed Jason Johnson, a U.S. soldier who falls for a member of the Bahraini royal family, and opposite Mercedes McNab in the comedy movie “Beer Money” (USA Network). Also having a guest role in a 2001 episode of NBC's “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the actor did not enjoy a resurgence until 2001 when he joined the cast of the ABC drama series “NYPD Blue,” replacing Rick Schroeder. As Detective John Clark, Jr., he quickly won the heart of audiences and stayed with the show until it came to an end in 2005.
Despite his hectic schedule, Gosselaar still found time for other projects. He teamed up with Lisa Robin Kelly, Leigh Anne Robertson and Alexandra Adi for the TV film “Alikes” (2002), costarred opposite Sharon Lawrence in “Atomic Twister” (2002), a television movie directed by Bill Corcoran, and had a supporting role in the Leslie Bibb starring vehicle “Hitched” (Fox, 2005). After the demise of “NYPD Blue,” he snatched a recurring role on the Steven Bochco series “Over There” (2005), playing John Moffet, before joining Geena Davis in the Rod Lurie-created drama “Commander in Chief” (2005), which lasted 19 episodes.
Next, Gosselaar was featured with Lara Flynn Boyle, Colin Ferguson and Julie Stewart in the TV film “The House Next Door” (2006), adapted by Jeff Woolnough from the Anne Rivers Siddons novel, and supported Cassie Benavidez and Ramon Camacho in “Law Dogs” (2007), a CBS drama film helmed by Adam Bernstein. He also revisited series TV as Jake Ferris on the now defunct HBO show “John From Cincinnati” (2007), starring Rebecca De Mornay.
Currently, Mark-Paul portrays Jerry Kellerman on the TNT series “Raising the Bar.” Among his costars in the show are Teddy Sears, Paul Joyner, Melissa Sagemiller and Stacy Hall.
Young Artist: Best Young Actor Starring in an Off-Primetime Series, “Saved by the Bell,” 1991