Ralph Waite, best known for his role in the long-running TV show The Waltons, has died at the age of 85.
An ordained Presbyterian minister, social worker and former Marine, Ralph Waite turned to acting in the early 1960s, starring on Broadway opposite Faye Dunaway in Hogan’s Goat.
Small screen roles followed, working alongside the likes of Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson in films such as Cool Hand Luke and Five Easy Pieces.
But it was with The Waltons, which began in 1972, that Ralph Waite found global fame.
Ralph Waite, already in his mid-40s played Depression-era homesteader John Walton – the father of seven, living in rural Virginia, who worked hard to look after his family while imparting wisdom and authority to his homespun brood.
The show was an unexpected hit. Running for nine seasons, it prompted a series of movie spin-offs and found viewers around the world.
He once recalled a woman who told the actor she was inspired to go to college by the paternal figure of John Walton, Sr.
Ralph Waite received an Emmy nomination for his role in The Waltons, and another for his performance in the 1977 mini-series Roots, playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship.
In 1975 he founded the Los Angeles Actors Theatre, donating $50,000 to get the company off the ground.
Ralph Waite was married three times, and is survived by two daughters from his first marriage.
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