Days of Our Lives actor Joseph Mascolo dies at age 87

Joseph Mascolo arrives at the 41st annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, June 22, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (WCMH) — Joseph Mascolo, who played Stefano DiMera on Days of Our Lives since 1982 died Thursday at the age of 87, producers of the show announced Friday.

The actor had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years.

“It is with great sorrow that we share the news the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved member of the Days of our Lives family, Joseph Mascolo,” said Executive Producer Ken Corday in a statement to Soap Opera Digest. “The smile on Joe’s face is something we’d all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger than life presence, kind heart, and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades, and will live on in the memories of his many fans. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”