The Waltons: Patriarch Ralph Waite Dies at 85

Ralph WaiteRalph Waite, the actor best known for playing John Walton Sr. on The Waltons, died earlier today at the age of 85. Waite played the affable father for all nine seasons on CBS, as well as the reunion movies that followed.

Born in 1928 in White Plains, New York, Waite had a long career in Hollywood with roles dating back to the 1950s. In addition to The Waltons, he had regular roles on shows like The Mississippi, Murder One, Carnivale, and Days of Our Lives. He’s also had recurring roles on Bones as well as NCIS where he played the father of Gibbs (Mark Harmon).

Michael Learned, who played his wife on The Waltons said, “Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest man. 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. I’m devastated.”

Waite is survived by his third wife, Linda East, and two daughters: Kathleen and Suzanne.

What do you think? Do you have any fond memories of Ralph Waite’s work?

10 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. says

    When I heard of Ralph Waite’s death, I felt it as a personal loss. He was my ideal husband/father – a beautiful man. He reminded me of my own father – gentle and kind and fair. I especially loved his genuine spirituality despite his aversion to going to church – again like my own father.He was a role model for all men.

  2. Lemonhead says

    My daughter started watching the Walton’s and has grown fond of the show that I grew up with. It’s good to see that some shows transend generations and this was one of them. The memories of watching this show are still etched upon my mind forever.

  3. vp44 says

    He will be missed. I loved him playing Gibbs dad on NCIS, but I also loved him as Seely’s Grandfather on Bones, no body will be able to replace him. But he is now in Gods arms and I am sure he is happy. R.I.P. Ralph, you will be truly, truly missed.

  4. CAROLE says

    RALPH WAITS WAS SUCH A BIG PART OF OUR LIVES WHILE THE WALTONS WERE ON THE AIR . WE STILL WATCH IT EVERY DAY! GOD BLESS HIS FAMILY. HE WILL BEE WELL REMEMBERED AND SORELY MISSED.

  5. T says

    Like Michael Landon playing Charles Ingalls, Ralph Waite playing John Walton Sr., as two of TV’s favorite dads, anyone would have loved a dad like them will be missed.

  6. Thnunumber6 says

    Although I loved his role as Jackson Gibbs on NCIS, Ralph Waite will always be “Pa Walton” to me. RIP, Mr. Waite.

  7. Dennis Lessick says

    R.I.P. Ralph Waite!!!! As a big fan of NCIS I will really miss the wonderful performances you gave as Gibb’s father! You were perfect in that role! Heaven’s Gates are open for you!

  8. says

    I will miss him……He seemed like a real person to me, not just an actor……I still watch the Waltons here every day……I feel like I knew him GOD BLESS AND KEEP HIM

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