THE actor Ralph Waite, best known was his role in the hit TV series The Waltons has passed away. He was 85.
His role as John Walton, the head of a homesteading family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression, not only made him a star but earned him a place in the hearts of millions of fans.
He starred in the show (see below) for its entire run between 1972 and 1981 and even directed a number of episodes. He was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for his performance.
Acting was not his first choice of career. After leaving university, he had drifted between a number of jobs. Following a spell as a social worker and then as an editor in a publishing company, he ended up as a Presbyterian minister after studying at the Yale School of Divinity. It wasn’t until the age of 30 that he turned to acting.
His early career was spent playing small roles on stage and in films, including bit parts in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Last Summer (1969) and Five Easy Pieces (1970). He had also earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the TV mini series Roots. But landing the part in The Waltons was to prove his being break.
Even during his time with the hit series, Mr. Waite would find time to take on roles on stage and in films, including an appearance in a production on Broadway of Waiting For Godot in 1977.
After The Waltons his work on television included the series The Missisippi and a number of TV movies. During the 1990s he continued to appear in a range of television shows, including the series Murder One, and in films including The Bodyguard (1992) and Cliffhanger (1993).
His former time as a Presbyterian minister must have helped when he played the character of the Reverend Norman Balthus in the TV series Carnivále, which ran between 2003 and 2005.
In recent years, he had landed roles on hit TV shows including Bones and Days of Our Lives. He had also appeared in NICS as the elderly father of Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon).
To see the opening credits of The Waltons, click here.
To view an excerpt from an interview in which Mr. Waite talked about The Waltons, click here.
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