Ralph Waite

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 forty 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.

Published by Harrison Daily Times on Feb. 14, 2014.
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749 Entries
Just loved him in NCIS --- will miss him & those beautiful baby blues !!!
Cindy Tuber
July 21, 2021
Loved him......watch the reruns everyday
September 7, 2020
We have lost a beautiful wonderful friend I watch the waltons for a very long time I still watch all the reruns ever chance I get
September 6, 2020
It has been 6 years since his death and I still watch reruns of the Waltons. A great actor.
Mary Sizemore
September 6, 2020
Remembering Ralph Waite, the talented Actor and Father figure of the Walton Family, and His exemplary talents and the countless people He influenced in His lifetime... May Ralph Rest in Peace...
John and Barbara
August 10, 2020
If I were to have known Ralph Waite personally, I personally would have been honored, if he were to perform our wedding ceremony.
Dwight Clark
July 15, 2020
Miss him
May 3, 2020
Sumper FI, Marine, RIP Sir
And condolences to your family
and a fantastic actor
Donald Johnson Sr
January 6, 2020
God is a God of all Comfort and he will Comfort the Family's...My condolences
September 22, 2019
Dear Waite Family-We would like to offer our sincerest condolences on loss of a fine actor. We admired him in the Walton series on CBS as John Walton. In addition to his role in Roots as Mr. Slater.
He will be greatly missed by thousands , but we also know he is with our lord & savior as he shared some years ago his education at Yale University's Divinity School in which he later became a minister if only for a short time. RIP Mr. Waite.......
The Randall Family NY Adirondacks
July 12, 2019
Guylene Smith
May 23, 2019
Diana Denniston
May 8, 2019
Your missed
Vince D
April 24, 2019
Excellent actor. Honest face. Someone I would like to have known.
Budd Crevar
April 18, 2019
To the Waite Family; I would like to offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Mr. Ralph Waite. He was patriach and very fine actor who played
John Walton. He will be greatly missed.


Tijuana Jones
Tijuana Jones
March 24, 2019
October 28, 2018
To the Waite Family; I would like to offer my sincere condolences on the passing on such a fine actor. His performance in the Walton series as the patriarch John Walton was outstanding. In addition to this , I also admired his role in Roots as Mr. Slater where he played the ship's slave master.
He will be greatly missed, but I know if he was saved he went to be with our lord Jesus Christ..


Mrs.Tijuana Grace Jones.
Tijuana Jones
September 11, 2018
Loved him in the Walton's!
Annie Graves
August 9, 2018
A man who kept us entertained and will be missed x
May 23, 2018
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!
Ewen Burt
May 17, 2018
rip gibbs sr
May 3, 2018
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 Grandpa, Grandma who have passed on. But part of your life still lives on the the family story called The Waltons!!!
Kathie Woodcock
February 19, 2018
I'm sorry for your lost! Prayers and condolences to your family.
Mykell T
February 13, 2018
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
Audrey Matthews
January 31, 2018
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.
Kushagra M
January 18, 2018
ralph was a light in the darkness, and he brightened my life
barbara griffith
September 22, 2017
Late, yes indeed! he was like the father I had, loving..yet I mean business kinda of guy. My father went to be with our Lord on September 1, 2013.I too watch the Walton's still and have some tapes. What a wonderful family show. A special thank you to each cast member.
Have a wonderful time in heaven Ralph!

Linda SeagRoves
Linda SeagRoves
July 22, 2017
I know this entry is late, but he was the father I wished I'd had. Amazing actor. Still watch the Waltons. RIP, Ralph....you are missed.
Barb Jones
May 22, 2017
What was expressed via TV was a loving concern for each other. Very little contention. Tranquility among their
busy family life. That's my view.

Ralph set a great example: a timeless
role as a husband,parent & father.

God Bless Ralph and the entire cast for
giving us the reality of family life.

From a Parent of 6 Children.
Fred Starkey
May 17, 2017
Ralph Waite was cool,when it came to the walton s he made you wish that you were part of that family,and I definitely would rather live with a struggling tight family held together by a man like john Walton who was a man Ralph Waite not only brought to life but gave incredible depth and reality to. Not to mention some of his various other roles,he was even fun to watch as a nasty guy in his appearance in Charles Bronson's film ChatosLand,Ralph Waite you were cool and we can keep brining you home in your TV and movie roles god bless ya Ralph your one of many fans,Rob Pollard
Rpb Pollard
April 7, 2017
He was the purist example of how to be a " Dad" on "The Walton's" and an excellent actor. He will be greatly missed. RIP
A fan
March 24, 2017
The best fathher figure I will come close too,as a small child I would curl up on sofa to watch Mr .Waite to give his wise counsel to all his children . He sure does love alot people from every culture . I surely feel empty as tears stream down my face. He was truly my father in every since of the word even thought I will never get to tell him
Sfc Jacqueline Jordan
February 26, 2017
Valenda Newell
November 25, 2016
God bless you. Rip.
Martha Neff
September 1, 2016
Rest in peace! You are truly missed. I look at the Walton's all the time and I think about you. You will always be remembered!
Hazel Johnson
June 1, 2016
He is truly missed but we will always have the Walton's to fall back on. He is always a great father
mrs.theresa van horn
May 26, 2016
Watching the Walton now 2/5/16 family love lasts forever
Jayne Wood
May 2, 2016
Our family loved the Waltons and everythingit stood for. Thank you for your wonderful way of showing us a large family loving one another despite all their differences. Brenda Milton
brenda milton
April 28, 2016
So sad..! I loved him in the Waltons! I watch two episodes every night here in Ireland. Only watched two last night 14/4/16..! Thank you for years of entertainment in my sitting room! I also thought he was a very handsome man! May you rest in peace! Never forgotten in this little part of Ireland!! Xx
Margaret Fitzgerald
April 17, 2016
A great loss,
January 16, 2016
The father many of us wish we had been born to! Good night "Daddy".
Ellen Reed
January 15, 2016
Revelasion . una muestra de lo que sera sin el sufrimiento para la humanidad
January 12, 2016
Just watch the finale of ncis and it brought home no more papa gibb. RIP ralph waite. GBNF x
tina bell
December 11, 2015
Ralph Waite was my favourite TV Dad of all time. I loved his kindness and unconditional love towards every single one in his family. He loved them all equally and always had time to listen. I felt very sad to hear of his passing.

Rest in Peace 'Daddy Walton'
You left a forever memory in our hearts.
S Conners
November 19, 2015
Walter Bain
September 18, 2015
One of the best Tv Dad,ever. Mr. Waite will be sadly miss but all those wonderful life lessons his Tv charater (John) taught on the show "The Waltons" will live on.
Walter Bain
September 18, 2015
I never met Mr. Waite, but I would have loved to. His true character showed through as John Walton, Sr. His acting was the best I've ever seen. I still watch ever episode of the Walton's and enjoy him.

Patsy Berumen (Claremont, CA)
Patsy Berumen
September 3, 2015
You made my Thursday nights better throughout my childhood and for that I thank you. You live on in my heart.
Tami Lewis
August 9, 2015
We met in Dubuque. You are the Brother of Bill and Bob, as I am. I know you will be at the meeting in heaven when I arrive. See you then.
May 31, 2015
A great actor who brought a fatherly warmth & love into our homes. No one could live up to 'Pa' Walton & he was brave & very honest to admit that, but I think that shows how much of the character was in the man & indeed in how well he portrayed him 'how much of the man was in the character!'
Rest in peace Ralph.... you will be dearly missed!
Mon McEwan
February 15, 2015
To the family of Mr. Waite and also to his "Walton Family". What a wonderful tv show. Me and my children never missed one episode. I just last year bought all the seasons for my grandchildren as a Christmas gift. My one granddaughter was named Elizabeth after the Waltons Elizabeth. But, i want to tell you all of you have my deepest sympathy. And all of you will be in my thoughts and prayers. May our Lord Jesus and St. John Paul 2nd fill all of your hearts with PEACE. With peace & love. CaroleAnn Underwood
CaroleAnn Underwood
January 20, 2015
I wish all fathers could be like John Walton as played by Ralph Waite.The world has lost some-one special.We will never be able to capture that kind of personality again.
January 2, 2015
I wish all fathers could be like John Walton as played by Ralph Waite.The world has lost some-one special.
January 2, 2015
You were the Dad and Father everyone wanted as their Dad.
Growing up watching The Waltons was always a special time for me.
They couldnt have picked a better man and actor to be both Kevin Costners father and Leroy Jethro Gibbs' dad.
You touched the hearts of many generations the world over sir.
Rest In Peace Always. You will never be forgotten and always missed!!
Net Wrk Guy
November 7, 2014
For The Waite Family & his Show Family I'm deeply sorry of your loss ;-(. I didn't even know he was sick I'm very sorry it had too happen too a nicer Guy he didn't care what People look like or who they where that shows me how nicer he rely was ;-( ;-( ;-( I'm very sorry.
October 21, 2014
i watched the waltons from the begining to end so many times and watched his other programmes. he will be sadley missed
karen atkinson
August 24, 2014
May the Beautiful Memories of you loved one provide solace and strength to you and your family during this difficult time. May you also find comfort in God's promise of life without end in Paradise. Matthew 5:5 , Acts 25:15
August 19, 2014
May the Beautiful Memories of your loved one provide solace and strength to you and your family during this difficult time. May you also find comfort in God's promise of life without end in Paradise. Matthew 5:5 , Acts 25:15
August 19, 2014
Ralph Waite will always be a treasured icon in my family. He truly knew how to be a father as John Walton and will never be forgotten
Wendy Powell
August 14, 2014
The Waltons was my favorite TV show. It put me back to those times which were actually before my time, But the Mts and thw way the family were so close knit was wonderful to see,especially in theses times. Some of the items in the house reminded me of my gramma place on the farm,things you dont see these days. I am sure you are in heaven where all good ppl go and will be re united with the other crew , your Walton family, God Bless You,,.. Someone in Ontario
August 3, 2014
Sometimes the death of a loved one hurts so deep that it takes a long time to over come it. At my mothers funeral The hurt was so deep until the pastor said....God did not take your loved one away, He merely welcomed them home. Thank you Mr. Waite you were the dad to millions of us who watched the Waltons. May you rest within God's loving arms now and forever. Job very well done.
John Dirkes
July 24, 2014
It is still hard to believe Mr. Waite has passed. He was a great inspiration, even teaching me how to be a better Father to my own Sons. His personality shone through all the years he played the Father on the Waltons, and on to the Walton movies. He will be sorely missed.
Scott Thornton
July 15, 2014
Thought you might like to see this link : http://www.purepeople.com/article/ralph-waite-mort-du-pere-de-gibbs-dans-ncis_a136555/1

It says : "Le monde est drôlement mauvais tel qu'il est sans que tu en rajoutes". Une phrase de "Jackson" que beaucoup de jeunes aujourd'hui en France devrait apprendre. Goodbye Jackson...you will always be an inspirational actor.

The French part quotes his NCIS saying that "The World is bad enough without you adding to it"...and goes on to say that many French youngsters should learn this adage and that Jackson (of course Ralph) will always be an inspirational actor.

Happy Memories...
Philip Martindale
June 29, 2014
my name is bobby the walton is my favorite tv show also
Bobby Jones
June 28, 2014
You to me were family . As you all sat around that table poor in wealth but rich in love I do with my own children . Thankyou an goodnight may you always be bright an have that twinkle in your eye x
Ann McCormick
June 25, 2014
Thank you so much for your wonderful portrayal of an Appalachian father who could do anything he set his mind to, a quintessential American, independent, innovative, kind-hearted and hard-working. Future generations take note and let Earl Hamner's characters and Ralph's, Will's, Michael's and Ellen's portrayals teach you how to live your lives. The real people they represent built this Nation out of trees and dirt.
Dale Miller
June 22, 2014
Happy Birthday Papa
John Dominguez
June 22, 2014
Nothing soothes my soul more than a pair of old dusty jeans, a pair of braces, a twinkle in the eye and a smile that reflects all that's good in the world with honesty and integrity. Thank you for all the memories, 'goodnight daddy' from accross the pond xxxxxxx
Sue Hodgett
June 14, 2014
We love and will miss you,the waltons was and always will be my favorite tv show. I have told my children that's how a family should be.
Carol Flower
June 9, 2014
Rip just watched NCIS dedication episode lots of memories thank you for all of them
Debora Welch
June 8, 2014
To Mr. Waite's family from a loyal Walton fan in Canada:
He is part of you always, but for us, the Walton family fans,
Mr. Waite brought honesty, realism, sincerity, humour, steadfastness, and strength to the Walton clan and to all of us who welcomed him into our homes every week. Every family needs a persona like John Walton, and all of us are grateful for the transparency and kindness that Ralph Waite added to the role. You would know his imperfections, and we can relay to you that his God must have loved him very much indeed to grant him so many talents and so many friends, and we all loved him just the way we saw him, and would have been pleased to know him as a friend apart from his acting if we had ever had that opportunity. If it is a true measure of a man in how much he is missed after he passes, then we hope it brings you, his family & friends comfort to know how great an actor and how good a man Mr. Waite surely was. "Good night, daddy" from your "other" family, who will never forget how special you were.
Marion W.
June 6, 2014
You were the only "Daddy" I ever had.
May 31, 2014
Rest in Peace, you contributed a lot and gave much of yourself to all who enjoyed your roles on TV etc. You will be missed.
Y Guy
May 27, 2014
Good night Mr. Waite/Daddy Walton. We will surely miss you! May God bless your family and give them peace! All of your fans and fans of "The Walton's" are saddened by your death.
May 26, 2014
you where a good father on the Waltons
I enjoy watching the Waltons to the Waite family sorry for your loss your father was a good man I loss my father a few years a go I still miss him
Donna Zatylny
May 26, 2014
The Walton's was my very favorite show! The world lost an exceptional, clean family series and now has lost the Papa and a fine actor. May you rest in peace. Many in the world loved you and still do. It was so wonderful seeing him play Gibbs's father on NICS.
Carolyn Lawrence
May 24, 2014
I loved Waite on NCIS and Bones the one where he is dancing in the club so funny. He added a lot to both shows and I will miss seeing him god bless a great actor
Lesleigh Combs
May 23, 2014
God Bless Daddy Walton
May 23, 2014
God Bless you Mr. Waite, and your family as well. Rest in Peace, Thank you for sharing your gift with us.
Lupe Ledesma
May 23, 2014
A Kind heart in our life during Mr. Waites career. We will certainly miss him. Rest in peace kind sir.
Arthur Jones
May 21, 2014
I sure did like his tv show on the Walton's and ncis god be you
May 20, 2014
Lord be with you and your family
Debbie Peters
May 15, 2014
Love you always, your the best
Debbie Peters
May 15, 2014
Rest in peace. You were the best
JJ dougherty
May 15, 2014
simpa fi right ralph waite is in a better place now now with the cast n crew of the waltons Richard tommus n the cast of ncis mark hamon I know how sad they feel ralph waite was very good ncis n Walton wountain sad mark hamon has lost a angel of true acting in his passing I do feel sad for ralphs family rest n peace ralph Jackson ncis gibbs shadow is gone for ever
gary workman
May 14, 2014
I loved The Walton's. It was an inspiration to my generation and I wish the show could be shown again to inspire this generation. Thank goodness it is on DVD. He was a great and honest man and perfect as the father on the show. He made us believe. He was an actor that made everything better by just being in it. I wish he had won his runs for Congress. My heart goes out to his family. May God bless them.
Janeen Moore
May 14, 2014
So sorry for the Waite family who lost a great man, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, nephew and many great friends. My heartfelt condolences go out to you all even though it has been 3 months and a day and I just found out last night on NCIS. Where have I been right, well my husband watches TV. I have one show I watch and he didn't fill me in on Mr. Waite's passing until yesterday. He was a great actor. I used to watch the Walton's everytime I could. Such a great family movie, no cussing, etc. You don't find many good shows on TV anymore like that. God bless his family and watch over them until they meet again someday. Rest in peace Mr. Waite(or as I knew you, the great father on the Walton's). May the Lord bless your family and watch over them and comfort them. Michelle(Camdenton, MO)
Michelle Risener
May 14, 2014
John Walton. I own the entire series. Tough to let such an example of father and family go. Ralph Waite played the role with such reality it made those of us jealous of not being his child. Such wonderful family values. He takes a part of me with him. No one to replace him.
Brenda Baker
May 14, 2014
To Mr. Waite. You did inspire a generation of people in The "Waltons", you, Ellen Corby ( Grandma) Will Geer ( Grandpa) will live on in our minds, and in our hearts. I have all of the DVDS and watch them. Goodnight Daddy, Mama, Grandpa and Grandma. Please know that you are all loved and are missed! I wish you were my parents and Grandparents. Mama you just have to live forever! Anne Marie
Anne Marie
May 14, 2014
The world lost a great man and great actor. Mr. Waite you will be sorely missed. May God watch over your family until you're together again.
May 14, 2014
Semper Fi my friend. May you find comraderie with the Marines that have gone before you.
May 14, 2014
To the family of Mr. Waite, I am so sorry for your loss. Everyone refers to him as Daddy Walton or as the character he played on NCIS. I did love watching him as a little girl, but he was some ones real father, not just a character. Prayers for the family, Rest In Peace Mr. Waite.
May 14, 2014
I was 10 when the Waltons began and I grew up watching the show, from the first episode to the last. My own family life was chaotic and we were not close. My father was away from home the vast majority of the time. I used to dream of being a Walton, and wished for John to be my father. I'm sure I'm not the only child of the era who felt that way. Mr. Waite was a good man, a good actor and will be missed. To his family, I wish you peace as you grieve the loss of your husband and father. Goodnight, Mr. Waite. Godspeed.
May 13, 2014
Dear Waite Family,
May you find peace in knowing "Mr.Waite" was a child of God, who is well aware of our imperfections.
Thank you for your many years of entertainment. God's speed.
The S. Palega Family
Dorthy Palega
May 13, 2014
You will be missed you were there for most of my adult life and let me enjoy many moments of your acting
tracy and john halverson
May 13, 2014
may God be with his family at this time of needhe was a great father figure everybody loved him very much may God be with him
Debbie Leslie
May 13, 2014
May 13, 2014
Heaven now has another angel, rest in peace dear sir!
My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Sheila Nichols
May 13, 2014
I have watched you most of my life and have loved you in all your characters, especially as Gibbs's dad. Your perfection in you craft came from a perfection in your personal character. You will be sorely missed. I hope your family and friends find peace in the knowledge that you helped form millions of lives with the characters you portrayed. I have already started my grandkids watching the Walton family on a regular basis, and as they get older will also show them NCIS ( have almost all of the series)
Cheryl Clardy
May 13, 2014
To soon gone, but never forgotten!! Rest in peace.
Jan Limbo
May 13, 2014
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