Ralph Waite

Biography

Date of Birth 22 June 1928, White Plains, New York, USA Height 6' (1.83 m) Mini Biography Ralph Waite's stalwart and steadfast TV homesteader John Walton will endure in the hearts of family-oriented viewers for decades to come. The actor was born in White Plains, New York on June 22, 1928. Educated at Bucknell University where he graduated with a BA degree, Waite existed rather aimlessly as a young adult while trying to find his way in the world. Occupations came and went, including social worker, religious editor for Harper & Row, and even Presbyterian minister after spending three years at the Yale School of Divinity. At age 30, however, he began to study acting and found his true life's passion. Waite made his professional NY debut in a 1960 production of "The Balcony" at the Circle in the Square and was seen on Broadway in "Blues for Mister Charlie" before earning fine reviews in 1965 alongside Faye Dunaway in "Hogan's Goat". This was enough to encourage him to move West where he began collecting bit parts in prestigious movies, including Skrappe Luke (1967) and Five Easy Pieces (1970). One of those films, the coming-of-age Sidste sommer (1969) starred an up-and-coming talent named Richard Thomas, who, of course, would figure prominently in Waite's success story in years to come. Waite continued to thrive as well on the stage appearing in both contemporary plays ("The Trial of Lee Harvey Osward") as well as Shakespearean classics (Claudius in "Hamlet" and Orsino in "Twelfth Night"). Stardom came for him in the form of the gentle, homespun Depression-era series "Familien Walton" (1971). In the TV-movie pilot, the roles of John and Olivia Walton were played by Andrew Duggan and Patricia Neal. The Earl Hamner Jr. series, however, would welcome Waite along with Michael Learned, and make both, as well as Richard Thomas playing their son John-Boy, household names. Waite also directed several episodes of the series during the nine seasons. Throughout the seventies, he strove to expand outside his Walton patriarchal casting with other TV mini-movie endeavors. Those included "Rødder" (1977), for which he received an Emmy nomination, the title role in The Secret Life of John Chapman (1976) (TV), OHMS (1980) (TV), Angel City (1980) (TV) and The Gentleman Bandit (1981) (TV). He also appeared in a few films including On the Nickel (1980) which he wrote and directed. Throughout the run of the series, Waite continued to revert back to his theater roots from time to time. Notable was his role as Pozzo in Waiting for Godot (1977) (TV), which was televised by PBS, and a return to Broadway with "The Father" in 1981. Waite also founded the Los Angeles Actors Theatre in 1975 and served as its artistic director. "Familien Walton" (1971), which earned him an Emmy nomination, ended in 1981 and Waite ventured on to other TV character roles during the 80s and 90s but less visibly. In his second TV series "The Mississippi" (1982), which was produced by his company Ralph Waite Productions, he played a criminal lawyer who abandoned his practice (almost) for a leisurely life captaining a riverboat. It lasted only a year. There have been other more recent theater excursions including "Death of a Salesman" (1998), "The Gin Game" (1999), "Ancestral Voices (2000) and "This Thing of Darkness" (2002). He also had a recurring role on the offbeat HBO series "Carnivàle" (2003) and in 2009 began putting time in on the daytime soap "Horton-sagaen" (1965) as Father Matt. Waite still carries with him a certain grizzled, rumpled, craggy-faced, settled-in benevolence, although he is quite capable of villainy. He has always seemed more comfortable in front of the camera wearing a dusty pair of work clothes than a suit. For many years, Waite has held passionate political ambitions. He twice ran unsuccessfully for a Congressional seat -- in 1990 and 1998. A Palm Desert resident during his second attempt, the 70-year-old Californian was a Democratic hopeful for a seat left vacant by the late Sonny Bono after his fatal skiing accident in 1998. He was ultimately defeated by Bono's widow, Mary Bono. Waite has been married since 1984 to third wife Linda East. Spouse Linda East (4 December 1982 - present) Kerry Shear Waite (27 August 1977 - 31 August 1981) (divorced) Beverly (1951 - 1966) (divorced) 3 children Trivia Unsuccessfully ran for Congress in California to fill the unexpired term of the late Sonny Bono, defeated by Mary Bono, (Sonny's widow), April 7, 1998. First ran for congress in 1990, losing against then rep. Al McCandless (R). John Walton Sr., Waite's character on "Familien Walton" (1971), was ranked #3 by TV Guide in its list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue]. Stepfather of Liam Waite.

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Birth Name

Ralph Harold Waite Jr.

Birth Place

White Plains

Birth Date

6/22/1928

Death Date

2/13/2014
Known For
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The Bodyguard

Herb Farmer

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Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

Shadow (voice)

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Sunshine State

Furman Temple

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Crash and Burn

Lathan Hooks

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A Wedding on Walton's Mountain

John Walton

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A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain

John Walton

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A Walton Wedding

John Walton

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Girls on the Road

John

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Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain

John Walton

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A Walton Easter

John Walton

Starring In
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Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Self (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Gabe the Cupid Dog

R.L. Dutton

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Heart of a Hero

Ed

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Letters to God

Cornelius Perryfield

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Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective

Grandpa Ventura

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Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses

Jacob Brawley

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Silver City

Casey Lyle

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Carnivale: The Complete First Season

Reverend Norman Balthus (16 episodes, 2003-2005)

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Sunshine State

Furman Temple

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Time Quest

The Time Traveler

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The President's Man

President Mathews

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The Third Twin

Senator Proust

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A Walton Easter

John Walton

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Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

Shadow (voice)

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A Walton Wedding

John Walton

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Sioux City

Drew McDermott

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Keys

Dr. C.J. Halligan

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A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion

John Walton

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Cliffhanger

Frank

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The Bodyguard

Herb Farmer

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Crash and Burn

Lathan Hooks

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Snake Treaty

Martin

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Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood

Narrator

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Crime of Innocence

Frank Hayward

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A Wedding on Walton's Mountain

John Walton

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A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain

John Walton

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Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain

John Walton

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Angel City

Jared Teeter

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Red Alert

Henry Stone

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The Stone Killer

Mathews

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Kid Blue

Drummer

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The Magnificent Seven Ride!

Jim Mackay

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Chato's Land

Elias Hooker

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Girls on the Road

John

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Lawman

Jack Dekker

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Detective Cromie

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The Grissom Gang

Mace

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The Sporting Club

Olson

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Five Easy Pieces

Carl Fidelio Dupea

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Last Summer

Peter's Father (uncredited)

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A Lovely Way to Die

Sean Magruder

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Cool Hand Luke

Alibi

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