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Ralph Waite, ‘Waltons’ patriarch and ‘25 Hill’ actor, dies at 85

From staff and wire reports

LOS ANGELES: Ralph Waite, who played the father in TV’s hit series The Waltons, died midday Thursday in the Palm Springs area, his manager said. He was 85.

Waite was best known for his role as the patriarch in the 1970s series The Waltons, but he had remained a working actor — including a 2011 visit to Akron to appear in the Soap Box Derby film 25 Hill.

Waite also appeared recently in recurring roles on shows including NCIS and Days of Our Lives.

Waite, who has a long history with family entertainment through playing John Walton, told the Beacon Journal that the family aspect of 25 Hill was one thing that drew him.

That, and ‘‘I was asked. You get to be in your 80s, you don’t get asked that often.’’

More seriously, he added: ‘‘I’ve always been partial to family dramas . . . and this had a kind of beautiful quality in the script. I appreciate it and I thought, yeah, I’ll do it. I’ll be glad to do it.’’

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

The show was narrated by its creator, Earl Hamner Jr., who based it on his family memories.


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