( b. Jun 22, 1928 White Plains, New York, USA - d. Feb 13, 2014 Palm Springs, California, USA ) Male
Ralph Waite was a multifaceted actor who became etched in the American imagination as the craggy-faced, big-hearted patriarch of a rustic, Depression-era clan in the popular 1970s television series "The Waltons."
The success of "The Waltons" owed much to the actors and the characters they played, members of a homespun, hardscrabble rural family used to surmounting challenges through old-fashioned virtues. The foremost was John Jr., or "John-Boy," the oldest of seven children. John-Boy, played by Richard Thomas, was a serious young man with a passion to be a writer.
Almost as significant was Mr. Waite's John Sr., the family patriarch who displayed wisdom, goodness, courage and a bit of a temper. He did not approve of hunting animals for sport, but hunted to put food on his hard-pressed family's table. Though he shunned organized religion, his wife, Olivia, played by Michael Learned, called him "the most God-fearing man I know."
Acting was only one aspect of Mr. Waite's life, although it was because of his "Waltons" fame that excited strangers hailed him in airports. He was at various times a Marine, a social worker, an ordained Presbyterian minister who served two congregations, a book editor and a three-time Democratic candidate for Congress from California.
As an actor, he ranged from Shakespeare to Beckett, from Broadway to soap operas, most notably as Father Matt on "Days of Our Lives." One of his two Emmy nominations was for playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship in the "Roots" mini-series in 1977, a glaring contrast to the broad-minded John Walton. The other was for "The Waltons."
He had small parts in movies like "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), with Paul Newman, and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970), with Jack Nicholson. He appeared on television on "Murder One" (1996); as the Rev. Norman Balthus on HBO's "Carnivàle" (2003-2005) and as Jackson Gibbs, the father of Mark Harmon's character, on "NCIS" (2008-2012). He directed 16 episodes of "The Waltons."
Ralph Harold Waite was born in White Plains, the oldest of five children. He eventually got a job as an understudy to all the actors in an off-Broadway production of Genet's The Balcony. By the time the run ended six months later, he had played all the major roles. He worked as a bartender and waited tables to support himself. In 1965, he received excellent reviews for his performance in William Alfred's Hogan's Goat, a drama about Brooklyn politics in the 1890s.
Source: The New York Times obituary
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