Joe E. Tata, actor who played Nat on 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' dead at 85

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MALIBU, CA - AUGUST 23: Actor Joe E. Tata arrives at the premiere party for the CW Network's "90210" on August 23, 2008 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Joe E. Tata arrives at the 2008 premiere party for The CW's "90210," in which he reprised his role as the Peach Pit's wise owner. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Joe E. Tata, the actor who famously played the Peach Pit's wise owner, Nat Bussichio, in the 1990s drama "Beverly Hills, 90210," has died at age 85.

Tata died Thursday morning in a Southern California care facility, according to his court-appointed attorney Richard W. Sharpe, who manages the actor's conservatorship.

Though he did not provide a cause of death, Sharpe said that Tata had "been ill for quite a while now and was going downhill."

Tata was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2018 . His daughter Kelly said that his health took a turn after he performed his final role on ABC's "Mystery Girls" in 2014, resulting in her moving in with him to be his full-time caregiver.

After his daughter had to deal with her own health struggles, she said, Tata was placed under a conservatorship in 2019, and she had to move out after he "unwittingly signed documents" that entered him into the legal arrangement. He maintained that he agreed to the conservatorship "under duress," she said.

Kelly set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help her "visit him more."

She could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.

The actor's death was first announced by his "Beverly Hills, 90210" co-star Ian Ziering, who posted on social media Thursday to mourn Tata, along with the recent deaths of "90210" producer Jessica Klein and actor Denise Dowse.

"I’m very sad to say Joe E Tata has passed away. Joey was truly an OG, I remember seeing him on the Rockford files with James Garner years before we worked together on 90210. He was often one of the background villains in the original Batman series," wrote Ziering, who played Steve Sanders in Aaron Spelling's prime-time teen soap, which ran on Fox from 1990 to 2000.

"One of the happiest people I’ve ever worked with, he was as generous with his wisdom as he was with his kindness. Though the peach pit was a 90210 set, It often felt like the backdrop to the Joe E Tata show," Ziering added. "The stories of days gone by that he would share, incredible experiences in the entertainment industry that he was a part of would keep us all captivated.

"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. My smile dims today but basking in fond memories moves him from my eyes to my heart where he will always be."

As the beloved diner proprietor Nat, Tata doled out advice to the "Beverly Hills, 90210" teens who frequented the vaunted establishment.

Tata also appeared in the CW reboot "90210," in which he reprised his role as Nat. His other credits include roles on "Charmed," "Magnum, P.I.," "Terminal" and "Bad Love."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.