Ralph Waite died today at the age of 85. He was best known for nine seasons on the Depression-era drama The Waltons as John Walton Sr. He won an Emmy nom for the role in 1978 and also directed more than a dozen episodes of the series, which ran from 1972-81 and was followed by a series of telefilms. Most recently he recurred on Bones and as Mark Harmon’s father, Papa Gibbs, on NCIS. Waite also played Father Matt in nearly 100 episodes of Days Of Our Lives and appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, Cold Case and The Practice.
But his acting credits date to the mid-1960s. He appeared on TV series including Bonanza and N.Y.P.D. and later as slave ship mate Slater in the landmark miniseries Roots, a key supporting role that earned Waite his first Emmy nom.
He also worked on the big screen, including roles in films ranging from Cool Hand Luke and Five Easy Pieces to The Bodyguard and Cliffhanger. The White Plains, NY, native also starred in the mid-’80s CBS drama The Mississippiand did arcs on Steven Bochco’s Murder One and HBO’s Carnivale. Waite unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1990, vying for the seat from California’s 37th District, which includes Mid-City and West Los Angeles.
Good Night Mr. Waite