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RIP, Ralph Waite

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2014
The actor was best known for "The Waltons," but he was a fine actor long after that; look at his work in "Murder One" and "Carnivale." He showed up on occasion in two current TV shows, as Gibbs's father on "NCIS" and Booth's grandfather on "Bones."
He also had a small role in "25 Hill," Corbin Bernsen's film about the All-American Soap  Box Derby. I met Waite and chatted with him briefly at Derby Downs in 2011, when he came in to do his scenes on the first day of shooting.
He said he took the role because of the family-friendly quality of the film. "I've always been partial to family dramas .. and this had a kind of beautiful quality in the script. I appreciate it and thought, yeah, I'll do it. I'll be glad to do it."
He also said, with some amusement, "I was asked. You get to be in your 80s, you don't get asked that often."
But he was glad to be in Akron, pointing out that "this is the great spot for the beginning of AA, you know." Waite had reason to be acquainted with the group. He said he would have liked to have stayed in town for more than the shooting day so he could see more of the AA sights.
And then, a cool thing: He pointed to a sign mentioning Cliff Hardesty, the derby champ in 1939. He and Waite had been friends, as 11-year-olds in White Plains, NY.
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