“THE WALTONS” STAR RALPH WAITE DEAD

Published on: February 12, 2014
Photography by: CBS Photo Archive/Getty
“THE WALTONS” STAR RALPH WAITE DEAD

THE WALTONS patriarch actor RALPH WAITE has died at 85.

The cause of death was not immediately known as Waite was still working appearing on both “NCIS” and “Bones”, his manager said.

"The Waltons," which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, starred Waite as John Walton, and Richard Thomas played his oldest son, John-Boy, an aspiring novelist. The  family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia

Waite received an Emmy nomination for "The Waltons" and another for his performance in the ABC miniseries "Roots."

Waite's role as a steady TV dad was in contrast to his personal life that was undercut by alcoholism, Waite told The Desert Sun.

"I was a caring, responsible father to all of these kids. But I was drinking the night before and being a drunk on the side," he said. "I found a way to get sober."

In 1990, Waite ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic challenger to a four-term Republican incumbent for the congressional district. In 1998, he vied for the congressional seat left open after Republican Sony Bono died in a skiing accident. Bono's widow, Mary, won the special election.

Michael Learned, who played wife Olivia Walton, said she was "devastated" by the death of "a good honest actor and a good honest man."

"He was my spiritual husband," Learned said. "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."