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'Beverly Hills, 90210' actor Joe E. Tata dies at 85

The prolific television actor also appeared on shows like "The Rockford Files" and the original "Batman" series.
Image: "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Joe E. Tata guest stars on an episode of "Mystery Girls."
"Beverly Hills, 90210" star Joe E. Tata guest stars on an episode of "Mystery Girls."Ron Tom / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Joe E. Tata, the veteran television actor best known for playing the owner of the Peach Pit diner on the Fox series "Beverly Hills, 90210," died Wednesday, according to his daughter.

He was 85.

"My father and I are forever grateful for the love and support of family, friends, and fans," Kelly Tata wrote on a GoFundMe page.

She did not specify a cause of death. The actor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, according to the GoFundMe page.

"Nat was a loving father figure to the kids of West Beverly High," Kelly Tata wrote. "In real life, my Dad, Joey, is honest, kind, and a truly incredible father."

In an acting career that spanned 50 years, Tata appeared on television shows such as "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," the original "Batman" series, "Lost in Space" and "The Rockford Files."

But he was most familiar to prime-time viewers for his role as Nat Bussichio on "Beverly Hills, 90210," the popular teenage soap opera that ran for 10 seasons.

He reprised the role on the spinoff series "90210," which ran on the CW network from 2008 to 2013.

Ian Ziering, who starred on the original incarnation of "Beverly Hills, 90210" as Steve Sanders, paid tribute to Tata on his Instagram account:

"Joey was truly an OG," Ziering wrote in part.

"He may have been in the back of many scenes, but he was a leading force, especially to us guys, on how to appreciate the gift that 90210 was," he added. "My smile dims today but basking in fond memories moves him from my eyes to my heart where he will always be."

Tata died nearly two weeks after the death of Denise Dowse, who had a recurring role on "Beverly Hills, 90210" as Yvonne Teasley, the vice principal at the fictional West Beverly Hills High School.

Tata was born Sept. 13, 1936, in the Bronx borough of New York City, according to a capsule biography on the Internet Movie Database.

He made his small-screen acting debut in a 1960 episode of the private eye series "Peter Gunn," billed as Joey Tata, according to IMDb.

In the decades that followed, Tata showed up on various prime-time shows, usually for an episode or two. "Beverly Hills, 90210" was his steadiest acting gig. He appeared in more than 200 episodes.

Tata's health "took a turn for the worse" after his final acting appearance on the ABC Family series "Mystery Girls" in 2014, his daughter wrote on the GoFundMe page.

He was placed under a conservatorship in 2019 after he "unwittingly signed documents," Kelly Tata wrote, adding that her father maintained that he agreed to the legal arrangement "under duress."

Kelly Tata did not immediately respond to a voicemail and a text message requesting comment. Richard W. Sharpe, the court-appointed attorney who reportedly manages Tata's conservatorship, did not reply to a voicemail and an email requesting comment.