Ralph Waite, John, Sr. On 'The Waltons,' Dead At 85

The prolific actor worked in television for decades, but is most famous for his role as the father figure on the iconic '70s TV show.
Posted at 11:37 PM, Feb 13, 2014

Ralph Waite, the actor who played John Walton, Sr. on the iconic CBS show "The Waltons," has died at the age of 85.

Deadline Hollywood broke the news Thursday. Waite was a prolific TV actor but for many he will always be known as the character TV Week listed as one of the top three greatest TV dads of all time.

The show featured the Waltons, a rural Virginia family during the Great Depression, and centered around family values.

"I wish a lot of good things for you, son." (Via Hallmark Channel / "The Waltons")

The show won dozens of awards and is one of the most popular series of all time for its endearing main characters and its sometimes gritty portrayal of social issues.

"We dealt with segregation, we dealt with book burning, we dealt with Jewish people coming over to the United States at the beginning of the war." (Via Entertainment Weekly / ABC)

Waite's passing is being marked by fans and coworkers alike, including many of the actors who played the Walton children on the show and who called Waite "Daddy." (Via Facebook / Mary McDonough, Judy Norton, Eric Scott)

Waite was an Emmy-winning actor, who worked on more recent shows like "NCIS" and "Bones." He said he believed work should be about a higher cause, and that acting allowed him that opportunity. 

"The best thing about acting for me is to be of service of some kind to my community, to my nation." (Via INSP)

Waite also served in the Marine Corps and as a Presbyterian minister, and even ran for Congress multiple times. Waite is survived by his wife, Linda, and three children.

"Goodnight, momma."

"Goodnight, daddy."

"Goodnight, children." 

"Goodnight, daddy." (Via CBS / "The Waltons")