Ralph Waite, who played the kind father on the television series “The Waltons”, passed away at the age of 85 on Thursday.
The beloved actor played the role of John Walton on the CBS series from 1972 to 1981.
Waite appeared last year in episodes of the series “NCIS”, where he played the father 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 adorable family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.
Ralph Waite’s co-stars praised both the actor and the man.
Mary McDonough, who played his daughter Erin Walter on the series, said, “I am devastated to announce the loss of my precious ”papa” Walton, Ralph Waite. 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”.
She said in a statement, “He was my spiritual husband. 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.”
Waite 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. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister and then worked at a publishing house, before becoming an actor.
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”.
Ralph Waite received an Emmy nomination for “The Waltons” and another for his performance in the ABC miniseries “Roots”.
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