Tiffani Thiessen’s Relieved TMZ Didn’t Exist Back In Her ‘Saved By The Bell’ Days

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Tiffani Thiessen and her family in L.A. last weekend.

Justin Bieber wore her face on his t-shirt and “Saved By The Bell” is still in syndication (check out reruns during MTV2′s “Old School Afternoons”), so it’s safe to say that Tiffani Thiessen and her fellow Bayside buds are perfectly aware of their ’90s icon status. But back in the day, before TMZ and other gossip blogs, she and her co-stars had some semblance of privacy…well, unless they went to the mall.

In a recent interview (via HuffPost), Tiffani said most of her interaction with fans took place in-person (what’s the internet?), especially on the road at promo tours. “That was the first time that I realized what an impact that show had when 5,000, 6,000, 10,000 kids were showing up to these malls and these places where we would sit there for hours and do autograph signings and pictures,” the “White Collar” actress recalled. “Kids wanted my empty cup of water and, you know, things like that. It was strange. I had to constantly remind myself that what I was doing was a job and I enjoyed my job and I was going back to school and do homework like all these other kids who were sitting here.”

The shopping center meet-and-greets of yesteryear stand in stark contrast to 21st century celebrity culture in which barely any boundaries exist. And that sure is a relief to the former teen queen. Thiessen feels fortunate to have pre-dated the paparazzi pandemonium that young stars deal with today, saying, “Thank God I missed that.” Luckily, though, she’s not turned off by Twitter. How else would we be able to send her a birthday gift?

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Photo: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images