Ralph Waite, patriarch of 'The Waltons,' dies at 85
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[February 14, 2014]
By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters)
— Ralph Waite, who played
the good-hearted but soft-spoken patriarch on the 1970s U.S.
television drama "The Waltons," died on Thursday in Southern
California, the actor's manager said. He was 85.
Waite, who served in World War II and was an ordained
Presbyterian minister, is best known for the role of John Walton
Sr. on the CBS drama about rural Appalachian life during the
"He was the best client and a fantastic human being," Waite's
manager Susan Zachary said, adding that the actor died in Palm
Desert, California, where he lived.
Waite, who left religion for about 50 years before rediscovering
it again in 2010, was born in 1928 in White Plains, New York. He
worked in publishing early in his career before moving onto
One of his first film roles was a small part as the character
Alibi in the 1967 Paul Newman film "Cool Hand Luke." In recent
years Waite had recurring roles in CBS crime drama "NCIS" and
NBC daytime soap opera "Days of Our Lives."
But Waite's most enduring role was the Virginia lumber mill
owner of Walton's Mountain during the show's run from 1972 to
He earned an Emmy nomination in 1978 for his role on "The
Waltons." His wife on the show, Olivia, was played by Michael
Learned, and Richard Thomas and Robert Wightman both played
their son, John Boy.
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"Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest
man," Learned said in a statement. "He was my spiritual husband. We
loved each other for over 40 years. He died a working actor at the
top of his game. He was a loving mentor to many and a role model to
an entire generation. I'm devastated."
Waite also earned an Emmy nomination in 1977 for his role as Slater,
the third mate on a slave ship in the TV miniseries "Roots."
Waite, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress three times as a
Democrat, also appeared in the 1992 drama film "The Bodyguard" and
the 1993 action thriller "Cliffhanger."
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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