Joe E. Tata Dies: ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Costar Ian Ziering Remembers the Nat Bussichio Actor

by Chris Piner

First premiering on October 4, 1990, the teen drama series Beverly Hills, 90210, quickly became a hit as it ran for a total of 10 seasons with close to 300 episodes. While accumulating ten seasons is already an achievement most never get, the show was just the first of six series created within the Beverly Hills, 90210 universe. During its series finale in May of 2000, over 25 million people tuned in to watch how the story ended. Among the stars of the show was Joe E. Tata, known as Nat Bussichio, the owner of the Peach Pit diner. Sadly, after battling Alzheimer’s for the last four years, the lovable actor passed away at the age of 85

Although a sad moment, Joe Tata’s health problems started in 2018 when his daughter, Kelly Tata, informed fans about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. At the time, she wrote on a GoFundMe page, “My Dad, Joey, is honest, kind, and a truly incredible father. After his final role on ABC Family’s ‘Mystery Girls,’ my father’s health took a turn for the worse. In 2014, I left my home to move in with him, effectively becoming his full time caregiver. As we had countless times before, Dad and I would navigate uncertainty together.”

Joe Tata Receives Heartfelt Tribute From Former Co-Star

With the news of Joe Tata’s passing away, former co-star, Ian Ziering, who played Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills, 90210, shared a touching tribute to the actor on Instagram. He wrote, “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. 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.”

Remembering the late star in his prime, Ian Ziering explained how Joe Tata loved telling stories. “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.”

While missing his old friend, Ian Ziering admitted to always keeping Joe Tata’s memory close. “My smile dims today but basking in fond memories moves him from my eyes to my heart where he will always be. My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends, and everyone else he was dear too. Rest In peace Joey.”