Ralph Waite

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Actor, Politician
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Ralph Waite (June 22, 1928 – February 13, 2014) was an American actor and political activist, best known for his role as John Walton, Sr. on The Waltons (1972–1981), which he occasionally directed. He also had a recurring role in NCIS as Jackson Gibbs, the father of Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Waite had supporting roles in movies like Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Grissom Gang (1971), The Bodyguard (1992), and Cliffhanger (1993).


  • Beverly Waite
    (m. 1951; div. 1966)
  • Kerry Shear Waite
    (m. 1977; div. 1981)
  • Linda East (m. 1982)

Early life

Waite, the eldest of five children, was born in White Plains, New York on June 22, 1928, to Ralph H. Waite, a construction engineer, and Esther (née Mitchell) Waite. Too young for World War II, Waite served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1946 to 1948, then graduated from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He worked briefly as a social worker. Waite earned a master's degree from Yale University's Divinity School and was an ordained Presbyterian minister and religious editor at Harper & Row, New York before deciding on an acting career. He was a member of the Peninsula Players summer theater program during the 1963 season.

Waite made his Broadway debut in Blues for Mister Charlie, and would work on and off-Broadway steadily throughout the 1960s.

Film work


His film work included roles in Cool Hand LukeFive Easy PiecesLawmanThe Grissom GangChato's Land and The Stone Killer. His later films included The Bodyguard, the part of Frank the helicopter pilot in the 1993 film Cliffhanger and as the mysterious Time Traveller in the Science Fiction Historical Drama film Timequest (2002). He also voiced Shadow in Homeward Bound II.

Later stage work

Waite scored a personal triumph when he created the role of Will Kidder in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man from Atlanta, by playwright Horton Foote, in 1995.

Personal life

Waite was married three times, two marriages ending in divorce. He had three daughters from his first marriage. His eldest daughter, Sharon Waite, died of leukemia when she was 9 years old in 1964.[8] Liam Waite, one of Waite's stepsons, is also an actor. After 50 years away from organized religion, Waite returned in 2010 and became an active member of Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship in Palm Desert, California.

Political involvement

Waite ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California as a Democrat on three occasions: In 1990, he challenged veteran GOP incumbent Al McCandless in the Riverside County-based 37th district, losing by five percentage points. In 1998, Waite ran in the special election for the then-Palm Springs-based 44th district left vacant by the death of incumbent Sonny Bono. He was defeated in that election by Mary Bono, Sonny's widow, and lost to her again that November.

On October 21, 1991, Waite introduced then-former California Governor Jerry Brown prior to the latter's speech announcing his candidacy for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination.


On February 13, 2014, Waite died in Palm Desert, California, of age-related illnesses at age 85.



  • Cool Hand Luke (1967) as Alibi
  • A Lovely Way to Die (1968) as Sean Magruder
  • Last Summer (1969) as Peter's Father (uncredited)
  • Five Easy Pieces (1970) as Carl Fidelio Dupea
  • The Pursuit of Happiness (1971) as Detective Cromie
  • The Sporting Club (1971) as Olson
  • Lawman (1971) as Jack Dekker
  • The Grissom Gang (1971) as Mace
  • Chato's Land (1972) as Elias Hooker
  • Hot Summer Week (1972) as John
  • The Magnificent Seven Ride (1972) as Jim Mackay
  • Trouble Man (1973) as Pete Cockrell
  • Kid Blue (1973) as Drummer
  • The Stone Killer (1973) as Mathews
  • Red Alert (1977, TV Movie) as Henry Stone
  • OHMS (1980, TV Movie) as Floyd Wing
  • On the Nickel (1980) as C.G.
  • Angel City (1980, TV Movie) as Jared Teeter
  • Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood (1988) as Narrator
  • Red Earth, White Earth (1989) as Martin
  • Crash and Burn (1990) as Lathan Hooks
  • Desperate Hours (1990)
  • The Bodyguard (1992) as Herb Farmer
  • Cliffhanger (1993) as Frank
  • Sioux City (1994) as Drew McDermott
  • Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996) as Shadow (voice)
  • Timequest (2000) as The Time Traveler
  • Sunshine State (2002) as Furman Temple
  • Blessings (2003, TV Movie) as Sheriff
  • Silver City (2004) as Casey Lyle
  • Letters to God (2010) as Cornelius Perryfield
  • 25 Hill (2011) as Ed
  • Gabe the Cupid Dog (2012) as R.L. Dutton


  • Look Up and Live (1966) as Host
  • The Borgia Stick (1967, TV Movie) as Man from Toledo
  • N.Y.P.D. (1967-1968) as Robert Stryker
  • Bonanza (1970) "The Lady and the Mark" as Hoby
  • Nichols (1971) as Sam Burton
  • The Waltons (1972–1981) as John Walton, Sr.
  • The Thanksgiving Story (1973, TV Movie)
  • The Secret Life of John Chapman (1976, TV Movie) as John Chapman
  • Roots (1977) as Third Mate, Slater
  • Waiting for Godot (1977, TV Movie) as Pozzo
  • CBS: On the Air (1978) as Himself
  • Angel City (1980, TV Movie) as Jared Teeter
  • The Gentleman Bandit (1981, TV Movie) as Father Bernard Pagano
  • A Wedding on Walton's Mountain (1982, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain (1982, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain (1982, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • The Mississippi (1983) as Ben Walker
  • A Good Sport (1984, TV Movie) as Tommy O'Bannon
  • Growing Pains (1984, TV Movie) as Rob
  • Crime of Innocence (1985, TV Movie) as Frank Hayward
  • Reading Rainbow (1987)
  • Murder, She Wrote (1989) as DA Paul Robbins
  • Sparks: The Price of Passion (1990, TV Movie) as Orville Lemon
  • A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1993, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • Time Trax (1994) as Lamont Carson
  • Sin & Redemption (1994, TV Movie) as Cal Simms
  • Keys (1994, TV Movie) as Dr. C.J. Halligan
  • A Season of Hope (1995, TV Movie) as Sam Hackett
  • A Walton Wedding (1995, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • Murder One (1996) as Malcolm Dietrich
  • Orleans (1997) as Otis Leblanc
  • A Walton Easter (1997, TV Movie) as John Walton
  • The Third Twin (1997, TV Movie) as Senator Proust
  • The Outer Limits (1999) as Gene Morton
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul (1999) as Dad
  • The President's Man (2000, TV Movie) as President Mathews
  • All My Children (2001) as Bart
  • Spirit (2001, TV Movie) as Jacob
  • Blessings (2003, TV Movie) as Sheriff
  • Carnivàle (2003–2005) as Reverend Norman Balthus
  • The Practice (2004) as Walter Josephson
  • Cold Case (2007) as Felton Metz
  • CSI (2008) "Young Man with a Horn" as Sheriff Montgomery
  • NCIS (2008–2013) as Jackson Gibbs (8 episodes)
  • The Cleaner (2008) as Jonus Mullins
  • Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective (2009, TV Movie) as Grandpa Ventura
  • Kickin' It (2011) as Principal Keener (7 episodes)
  • Days of Our Lives (2009–2014) as Father Matt (recurring) (final appearance)
  • Grey's Anatomy (2009) "Tainted Obligation" as Irving Waller
  • Bones (2009–2013) as Hank Booth (3 episodes)
  • Off the Map (2011) "On the Mean Streets of San Miguel" as Abuelito

As director

  • The Waltons (TV series, 1973–80)
  • On the Nickel (1980)
  • The Mississippi (TV series, 1983)

As producer

  • A Good Sport (1984) (executive producer)

As writer

  • On the Nickel (1980)


  • Blues for Mister Charlie (1963)
  • Hogan's Goat (play) (1965)
  • The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1967)
  • The Young Man From Atlanta (1995)

Source: wikipedia.org

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