Produced on June 22, 1928, in White Plains, Ny, Ralph Waite earned degrees from Bucknell University and Yale Divinity School before starting an acting career. Best known for playing the character of John Walton Sr. on The Waltons (1971-1981), when the show finished, Waite continued to work in television and movie.
The eldest of five kids, Ralph Waite was born in White Plains, Ny, on June 22, 1928, to Esther Mitchell and Ralph H. Waite. Then he entered Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, graduating with a bachelors of arts degree.
In 1951, Waite met and wed Beverly Hall, who inspired him to go into social work in Ny ‘s Westchester County. Bureaucratic hurdles as well as the indifference of his superiors discouraged him, yet, so Waite stop to enter Yale Divinity School. Ordained as a Presbyterian minister, he shortly found himself at odds with church protocol and disenchanted using the hypocrisy he saw in his fellow clerics.
Waite finally found a place as a spiritual editor for book publisher Harper & Row.
From the time Waite was 30, other devils in his life had started to show more profound issues, and he went through a amount of heavy soul searching. He started taking acting lessons in 1960, making his professional debut in the off Broadway production of The Balcony. He started drinking around this same time, beginning a fight with dependency that would endure for the next 14 years. By 1965, Waite was starring opposite Faye Dunaway in the play Hogan’s Goat—a character that brought him both critical acclaim and self confidence.
Waite met with disaster in 1964 when his 10-year old daughter, Sharon, died of leukemia. After Waite’s union to Hall finished in 1969, he traveled to Hollywood, California, where he located modest bit parts in movies like Cool Hand Luke (1967).
More critical acclaim for the performer followed, as well as in turn thus did many offers. Over its nine-year run (1971 81), The Waltons earned high ratings and lots of Emmy Awards.
Not needing to be eternally identified as John Walton, nevertheless, Waite expanded his abilities into other endeavors, for example, lead in the movie The Secret Life of John Chapman (1976) as well as the character of Slater to the hit miniseries Roots (1977), that the actor received an Emmy nomination. In 1980, Waite composed, produced, directed and broadcast the movie On the Nickel, which told the story of a recovering alcoholic who seeks out a buddy on Los Angeles’ Skid Row.
During this same time, in 1977, Waite entered his second union, to Kerry Shear Waite. The union did not last long, however, finishing in 1981. After The Waltons finished that same year, the performer continued to work in film, theatre and TV, including several Waltons TV movies.
In 1982, Waite married his third wife, Linda East, who stay together with the performer until his passing in 2014.
He finally lost the race, yet, to GOP incumbent Al McCandless. In 1998, Waite was a late nominee for the seat left empty by Sonny Bono, who’d died in a skiing injury.
Perpetrated to both, the celebrity-turned-politician strove to do both, traveling on Sunday to California to campaign and after that traveling back to New Jersey on Tuesday. He was finally conquered by Bono’s widow, Mary Bono.
Following the race, Waite continued to appear in TV characters, sometimes in guest spots on shows including the legal drama The Practice, HBO’s Carnivale as well as the prime time offense show NCIS and CSI. In 2010, Waite returned to his spiritual roots and joined the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship in Palm Desert. He also brought his talents to the pulpit, giving some Sunday sermons.
Ralph Waite expired on February 13, 2014, in the age of 85, at his house in Palm Desert, California.
The acclaimed performer left behind an indelible heritage. “The best thing about life is in those who believe some obligation to improve life,” he once said. “Without that, we are just half living.”