Ralph-Waite-Obituary

Ralph Waite

1928 - 2014 (Age 85)

Obituary

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ralph Waite, who played the kind-and-steady patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series "The Waltons," died Thursday, his manager said. He was 85. Waite, who lived in the Palm Springs area, died at midday, manager Alan Mills said. Mills, who did not know the cause of death, said he was taken aback because Waite had been in good health and still working. Waite appeared last year in episodes of the series "NCIS," in which he played the dad of star Mark Harmon's character. He also appeared in "Bones" and "Days of Our Lives." "The Waltons," which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, starred Waite as John Walton, and Richard Thomas played his oldest son, John-Boy, an aspiring novelist. The gentle family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. His co-stars on Thursday praised both the actor and the man. "I am devastated to announce the loss of my precious 'papa' Walton, Ralph Waite," said Mary McDonough, who played daughter Erin Walton. "I loved him so much; I know he was so special to all of us. He was like a real father to me. Goodnight Daddy. I love you." Michael Learned, who played wife Olivia Walton, said she was "devastated" by the death of "a good honest actor and a good honest man." "He was my spiritual husband," Learned said in a statement. "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." The show, which followed the Waltons' triumphs and setbacks through the Great Depression and World War II, was narrated by its rich-voiced creator, Earl Hamner Jr., who based it on his family memories. It was a TV rarity, a respectful depiction of Southern country life, and proved so popular that it overpowered its hit comedy competition, NBC's "The Flip Wilson Show." Waite, a native of White Plains, N.Y., served in the U.S. Marines before earning a bachelor's degree from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Yale University Divinity School, according to a 2010 profile by The Desert Sun. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister and then worked at a publishing house, the paper said, before falling under the spell of acting. Waite appeared on the stage before moving onto the big screen with roles in 1967's "Cool Hand Luke" and 1970's "Five Easy Pieces," in which he played the brother of Jack Nicholson's character. Waite received an Emmy nomination for "The Waltons" and another for his performance in the ABC miniseries "Roots." Waite's role as a steady TV dad in the CBS drama was in contrast to his personal life that was undercut by alcoholism, Waite told The Desert Sun. "I was a caring, responsible father to all of these kids. But I was drinking the night before and being a drunk on the side," he said, adding, "I found a way to get sober." In 1990, Waite ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic challenger to a four-term Republican incumbent for the congressional district that included Riverside, Palm Springs and Palm Desert, where Waite lived. In 1998, he vied for the congressional seat left open after Republican Sony Bono, another performer who turned to politics, died in a skiing accident. Bono's widow, Mary, won the special election. ___ LYNN ELBER, Associated Press Television WriterCopyright © 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Loved him in the Walton's!

A man who kept us entertained and will be missed x

I so enjoyed The Walton's!! Still watch reruns! We still tear up watching it! What a clean cut show!! Not any more, sad to say! I am a Born Again believer in Jesus Christ.( John 3:3), kjv. To family and friends, be assured of my prayers continually!

rip gibbs sr

Ralph Waite and so many others who we have lost will always be remembered because of the realism they brought to their roles in many different situations. The Waltons were my family when I was far away from home half way around the world and also at home in the USA.On TV I could "visit" them every day which was a comfort. I still watch them every day and hope their stories will be watched by generations to come because of the good lessons that were taught. You are missed Ralph, and...

I'm sorry for your lost! Prayers and condolences to your family.

The Waltons show is solace for me..I watch the show on dvds just about every evening....I have all 9 seasons...& all the specials..the cast members that have passed on will be truly missed ..I admire the integrity of the tight knit family. I love the Walton's

I know it is late but I look at my father just the way I used to look at you...

You will surely be missed Late Jackson Gibbs.

ralph was a light in the darkness, and he brightened my life

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