Co-Star And Acclaimed Actress Michael Learned On The Death Of TV Husband, Ralph Waite, ‘The Waltons’, ‘My Spiritual Husband’, Highlight Hollywood News


Actor Ralph Waite, who played John Walton Sr. on The Waltons for nine seasons, died Thursday at age 85. While he’s best known for his Emmy-nominated role as the patriarch on the long-running 1970s CBS drama, Waite has had recent recurring roles on NCIS, Bones, and Days of Our Lives.


When The Waltons debuted in September 1972, the divorce rate in America was already above 30 percent, on its way to 50. The Watergate break-in had happened in June. The Vietnam War continued to rage, and the top shows on television were All in the Family, Flip Wilson’s variety show, and Marcus Welby, M.D. The climate hardly seemed right for a family drama set in the 1930s. CBS commissioned a series anyway, motivated by the success of a TV movie about the Waltons — The Homecoming: A Christmas Story — and then began recasting a few roles.


The world was changing, the nation was changing, but steadfast were the performances of the two lead actors, Ralph Waite and beautiful acclaimed, award-winning actress Michael Learned, who portrayed beloved but independent wife Olivia Walton.  Highlight Hollywood spoke with Ms. Learned at her beautiful home in Beverly Hills  just hours after her beloved friend and costar died.  “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,” said Michael Learned.  Adding, “You can’t fake the affection we had for each other.”

You can read Mary McDonough’s statement to Highlight Hollywood on Mr. Waite’s death here!

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: File
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