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Ralph Waite, "The Waltons" star, dead at 85

Ralphe Waite
Ralphe Waite
CBS screenshot

Ralph Waite, who played John Walton Sr. - the likable father in the 1970s’ television drama “The Waltons” - passed away on Thursday in Palm Desert which is located in Southern California. Waite, who was a World War II veteran and an ordained Presbyterian minister, was 85-years-old, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Friday.

“The Waltons” was about a family living during the Great Depression in which Waite portrayed the father of the family. In the program, he owned a lumber mill on Walton’s Mountain. The shows with the Waltons’ theme ran from 1972 to 1981. He co-starred on the show with Michael Learned who played his wife and Richard Thomas as the original son, John Boy – later played by Robert Wightman.

Waite was born in White Plains, New York in 1928. Prior to having an acting career, he worked in publishing. Prior to starring in “The Waltons,” he had a small part in “Cool Hand Luke,” the Paul Newman motion picture which was released in 1967. Following “The Waltons,” he got acting jobs in “NCIS,” a CBS crime drama, and in “Days of Our Lives,” an NBC soap opera.