“He was a leading force”

Joe E. Tata attends Day 2 of the Chiller Theater Expo at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel on April 25, 2015 in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Joe E. Tata attends Day 2 of the Chiller Theater Expo at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel on April 25, 2015 in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Bobby Bank/WireImage Joe E. Tata

Joe E. Tata, the actor best known for playing Peach Pit Diner owner Nat Bussichio in Beverly Hills, 90210, has died. It was 86.

Former 90210 Actor Ian Ziering broke the news of Tata’s death Thursday on Instagram. (Representatives and Tata’s daughter, Kelly, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

In the touching tribute, Ziering noted how Tata’s death comes after the cast and crew recently lost two other members of 90210 family.

“In recent months we have lost Jessica Klein, one of the 90210its most prolific writers and producers, Denise [Dowse] who played Mrs. Teasley and now I’m sad to say that Joe E Tata has passed away,” she wrote alongside two photos of Tata.

“Joey was truly an OG,” Ziering continued. “I remember seeing him in the Rockford Archives with James Garner years before we worked together 90210. He was often one of the background villains in the original Batman series.”

“One of the happiest people I’ve ever worked with, he was as generous in his wisdom as he was in his kindness,” Ziering noted. “Although the peach pit was a 90210 set, it often felt like the set of the Joe E Tata show. The stories of yesteryear he shared, incredible experiences from the entertainment industry he was a part of would keep us all riveted.”

BEVERLY HILLS 90210, (from left): Ian Ziering, Joe E. Tata, Hilary Swank, 'Forgive and Forget', (Season 8, aired September 17, 1997), 1990-2000.

BEVERLY HILLS 90210, (from left): Ian Ziering, Joe E. Tata, Hilary Swank, ‘Forgive and Forget’, (Season 8, aired September 17, 1997), 1990-2000.

Aaron Spelling Prods/Courtesy Everett Collection Joe E. Tata in Beverly Hills, 90210

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Although Tata “may have been behind a lot of the scenes,” Ziering said, “he was a guiding force, especially for us guys, in how to appreciate the gift that 90210 it was.”

“My smile fades today, but being filled with beautiful memories moves him from my eyes to my heart where he will always be,” she concluded. “My sincere condolences to his family and friends and everyone else who was also loved. Rest in peace Joey 🙏”

BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, Joe E. Tata, 1990-2000

BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, Joe E. Tata, 1990-2000

Courtesy of the Everett Collection Joe E. Tata in Beverly Hills, 90210

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As fans know, Tata portrayed Nat Bussichio Beverly Hills, 90210 for its entire run from 1990 to 2000. He later reprized the role in the 2008 CW spin-off 90210.

The Bronx-born actor was also known for his roles in the 1966 TV series, Batman and The tunnel of time, according to his IMDb page. His other credits included playing Private Neddick No time for Sergeants from 1964–1965) and the 1970s police drama series The Rockford Archives.

His last television performance came in 2014 when he played Principal Frost on ABC Family’s Mystery Girls.

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In October 2021, Tata’s daughter Kelly launched a GoFundMe page revealing that her father’s health took “a turn for the worse” in 2014 and he was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.

“Now 86 years old, his illness has progressed to its final stages,” he wrote on the page at the time, which was set up to help with care and moving expenses. “He spends his days scared and confused. The few times I’ve seen him, there’s relief and joy in his eyes.”

He added: “Nat was a loving father figure to the kids at West Beverly High. In real life, my dad, Joey, is honest, kind and a truly incredible father.”

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