In Loving Memory of Earl Hamner

July 10, 1923 - March 24, 2016

In Loving Memory of Carolyn Grinnell

November 01, 1938
- March 23, 2022



Ralph Waite then                                  and today (2012)


Ralph Waite

Ralph Waite was born in White Plains, New York on June 22, 1928. He was the oldest of five children. After school he studied at the Bucknell University where he graduated with a BA degree. Waite worked as a social worker, as a religious editor for Harper & Row and even as a Presbyterian minister after spending three years at the Yale School of Divinity. At age 30 he finally began to study acting and found his true life's passion.

Ralph Waite started his profession as an actor in New York in 1960 production of "The Balcony" at the Circle in the Square and on Broadway in "Blues for Mister Charlie" . Later he was acting in several movies and TV series, including Cool Hand Luke (1967), Bonanza or Chato´s Land . 

Ralph Waite became world-famous with the Depression-era series The Waltons ( 1972 - 1981) for which he earned an Emmy nomination. Waite also directed several episodes of the series during the nine seasons.

In his early years Ralph Waite had alcohol problems and when he started filming The Waltons he already was a strong alcoholics. According to Ralph Waite his role of the pleasant , loving father John helped him to get grips with his alcoholic problem and helped him to manage it. He sucessfully joined Alcoholics Anonymus and he spent the rest of his life dry alcoholics.

During and after the end of the series Waite acted for numerous other television productions, he starred in the TV series Roots (1977) three episodes long slave trader Mr. Slater ( for which he received an Emmy nomination) , performed in Mississippi (1983) the criminal lawyer Ben Walker and he was seen at the side of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in Bodyguard. He also played a role in Cliff Hanger and was seen in several episodes of the TV crime series Murder One (1996) as Malcolm Dietrich, a murder suspect. 

Ralph Waite also worked as a director. Besides several episodes of The Waltons he had directed he also appeared in the movie On the Nickel, 1980, the story of two alcoholics in the margins of society. He wrote the screenplay, took the camera and directed.

Until his sudden death in 2014, Ralph Waite was seen in various TV  productions, such as in Navy NCIS, Cold Case and Grey's Anatomy.

Ralph Waite also had political ambitions and ran three times – without success - for the Democrats for the U.S. Senate.

Ralph Waite was married three times. From his first marriage he has three daughters but unfortunatelly one daughter died at the age of only 9 years.

Since 1982, Ralph Waite was married to his third wife Linda East and lived in Palm Desert, California, where he unexpectedly passed away on February 13, 2014 at home at the age of 85 years.



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