The Hollywood Reporter
By Duane Byrge
5:51 PM PST 2/13/2014
He was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for his portrayal of the middle-American paterfamilias.
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 The Hollywood Reporter.
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.
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.
LAAT won many critical awards, including the Margaret Harford Award given by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for “its consistently high standards, its commitment to adventurous theater and to community involvement.”
Multi-faceted, Waite was also an ordained minister, a former social worker and a recovering alcoholic. He channeled that background into a film on the lives of people on L.A.'s skid row, On the Nickel, which he produced/directed/wrote/starred.
Under his own production banner, Ralph Waite Prods, he starred as a criminal lawyer in the 1983 TV series The Mississippi.
TV movies credits include the titular role in “The Secret Life of John Chapman,” “OHMS,” “Angel City” and “The Gentleman Bandit.”
Politically active, he twice ran unsuccessfully for a Congressional seat, including a run for the seat left vacant by the late Sonny Bono in 1998.
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.
Born: 6/22/1928, White Plains, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 2/13/2014, Palm Desert, California, U.S.A.
Ralph Waite's Westerns - actor:
Bonanza (TV) – 1970 (Hoby Miles)
Lawman – 1971 (Jack Dekker)
Nichols (TV) – 1971 (Sam Burton)
Chato’s Land – 1972 (Elias Hooker)
The Magnificent Seven Ride – 1972 (Jim Mackay)
Kid Blue – 1973 (Drummer)