Emmy Award-Nominated Actor Ralph Waite, ‘The Waltons’ Has Died At The Age Of 85, Highlight Hollywood News


Ralph Waite, who was beloved to TV viewers as the ultimate father figure, John Walton, on The Waltons, has died. He passed away at midday on Thursday at his home in South Palm Desert, Steve Gordon, the accountant for the Waite family, told THR. 

He was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for his portrayal of the middle-American paterfamilias. He starred on The Waltons for nine years and directed 15 episodes.  Waite’s character as John Walton Sr., on The Waltons was ranked #3 in a TV Guide list of “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” Prior to his role on The Waltons, Waite had been in only one other TV show, a “Nichols” episode.  Mr. Walton was a good man, who didn’t attend church, which was a big thing in the show’s storylines. But, he always stood on the side of right, against racism, for family values and he didn’t judge others.  This type of male character in TV shows in the same era was unheard of.



Waite also performed in the vaunted mini-series Roots, for which he received a 1977 Emmy nomination.




More recently, he had a recurring role as Reverend Norman Balthus on HBO’s Carnivale, a part befitting a man who once served as an ordained minister on Long Island.

Waite was the founder and director of the Los Angeles Actors Theatre, which he established in 1975. To get the company off the ground, Waite allocated $50,000 of his own money to produce and direct revivals of The Hairy Ape, and The Kitchen, in which he also performed.




Ralph Waite was born June 22, 1928 in White Plains, New York and graduated from Bucknell University. He later studied for three years at Yale and earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree. At that juncture, he went on to have stints as a social worker for the Westchester County Department of Welfare, as well as publicity director and associate editor at Harper & Row.

Michael Learned’s (Olivia Walton) statement here!

Mary McDonough’s (Erin Walton) statement here!

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: File
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