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‘Waltons’ actor Ralph Waite dies at age 85


Although best known for

(CNN) — Veteran character actor Ralph Waite — who many knew best from his time on “The Waltons,” though he also had regular roles in more recent series like “Bones” and “NCIS” — has died.

He was 85.

Waite died on Thursday afternoon at his Palm Desert, California, home, according to Steve Gordon, his family accountant. Jane Mead, a representative of the Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship that Waite attended regularly, confirmed his death.

According to IMDB.com, Waite was already a Hollywood veteran with parts in movies like “Cool Hand Like” and “Five Easy Pieces,” plus TV series such as “Bonanza” when he landed the role of John Walton Sr.

Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.

Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on Thursday, February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on 'The Waltons.Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on Thursday, February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on ‘The Waltons.”

Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour helped define the 1950s Golden Age of Television, died on February 12. He was 91.Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” helped define the 1950s “Golden Age of Television,” died on February 12. He was 91.

Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.

Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family's church.Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family’s church.

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.

Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for Judgment at Nuremberg.Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as Where Have All the Flowers Gone and If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song), died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song),” died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.

Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, died on January 16. She was 95. Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” died on January 16. She was 95.

Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend's home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend’s home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.

Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.

Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of Gilligan's Island in 1966. Johnson, who played the professor Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89.Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” in 1966. Johnson, who played “the professor” Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89.

Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.

Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the Greensboro Four, who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina AT State University. Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the “Greensboro Four,” who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina AT State University.

Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.

Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey’s poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.

Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.

Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences, died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing “the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences,” died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.

Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.

Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film Gone With the Wind, died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film “Gone With the Wind,” died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.

Singer Phil Everly, left -- one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers -- died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.Singer Phil Everly, left — one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers — died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.


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Photos: People we lost in 2014Photos: People we lost in 2014

“The Waltons” struck a chord with many viewers during its run from 1972 to 1981, with Waite being a constant on that show as well as in several TV movies to follow.

Waite was twice nominated for an Emmy, first in 1977 for supporting actor in a comedy or drama series for “Roots” and the next year as lead actor in a drama for his Waltons’ role.

Waite also tried his hand at politics, running unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a U.S. representative seat that includes Palm Springs — narrowly losing in 1990 and again in 1998 to Mary Bono, the widow of former congressman and “Sonny and Cher” star Sonny Bono.

These forays didn’t stop Waite from continuing his day job, however.

He continued to score regular roles, for instance, on TV shows like “The Mississippi,” “Murder One,” “Carnivale,” “The Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

In fact, Waite was busy working right through last year playing recurring characters on not only “Bones” and “NCIS” but also “Days of Our Lives.”

Stephan Nathan, “Bones” executive producer, remembered Waites as “a wonderful man.”

“A big loss,” Nathan tweeted. “RIP.”

Pauley Perrette, part of the “NCIS” cast, also tweeted condolences for the man she referred to as Papa Gibbs.

“We love him at NCIS SO much,” Perrette said. “So so sad.”



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