‘The Waltons’ Star Ralph Waite’s Final Role Was on Iconic Soap Opera

by Joe Rutland

Ralph Waite famously played John Walton on the CBS drama “The Waltons,” but his final role on TV was on a long-running soap opera.

Waite played Father Matt on “Days of Our Lives” in 2014. He had the recurring role for five years, but that last appearance was on Jan. 23, 2014. He died on Feb. 13, 2014, at 85 years old.

“The Waltons” ran from 1972-81 on CBS and Waite appeared on that show throughout its run. Other TV shows where he had a recurring role include “The Mississippi,” “Murder One,” “Bones,” and “NCIS.”

But the actor definitely made a mark as the patriarch of the Walton family. His scenes with Michael Learned, who played his wife, Olivia Walton, along with other cast members are remembered by fans.

‘The Waltons’ Star Left Co-Star Judy Norton With Some Indelible Memories

Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton on the show, shared her thoughts about Waite on her YouTube series.

“Since we just celebrated Father’s Day, I thought it only fitting that I do this segment paying tribute to all the wonderful actors who were Walton fathers, starting off with John Walton, played by the fabulous Ralph Waite,” Norton said in a video posted on June 21.

She shared many scenes with him. Norton said it was hard for her to pick “just a handful of scenes or images that represented John Walton to me because he was all the best that one would hope for in a father.”

The fatherly actor’s on-screen work definitely made a solid impression on Norton.

She said he played the patriarch “with such compassion and sincerity and strength of character.

“He was firm, he was strong, [and] he was fair,” Norton said. “He had such integrity and that was represented throughout the series.”

“The Waltons” definitely was helped by Waite and his professionalism on the set.

Ben Walton Actor Eric Scott Recalls Having Scenes With Waite, Too

Norton is not the only actor from “The Waltons” to fondly remember Ralph Waite.

In a show reunion on “Stars in the House” earlier this year, cast members talked about him. As the event continued, Eric Scott, who played Ben Walton, offered his experience with Waite.

Scott, in an emotional moment, said Waite was like a third father to him. Scott had a dad and a stepdad in his life, too.

The actor also recalled Waite as being unpredictable, but in a way that was kind.

He said knowing whatever Waite did would be tremendous. Scott said those scenes with him were easy. Waite was “such a giver” that all Scott had to do was remember the script.

Obviously, these two actors, Norton and Scott, fondly hold Waite in their memories.