Ralph Waite had an acting career that spanned several decades. However, for many television fans he will always be identified with his character on “The Waltons.”
As fans of the show are aware, he played the loving, patient, kind, father John Walton, Sr. on the beloved family drama. The show was on the air from 1972 until 1981.
Turns out, his successful career also meant financial success for Waite. According to Celebrity Net Worth, this cast member of “The Waltons” was worth an estimated $2 million at the time of his death. Waite passed away at the age of 85 on Feb. 13, 2014.
Ralph Waite was born on June 22, 1928, in White Plains, New York. He chose Bucknell University for his education. Interestingly, he did not begin acting until he was 30 years old. Before that, he worked at several jobs and careers. He also served in the United States Marine Corps for four years.
Some of the jobs the future star of “The Waltons” had prior to his acting career included being a Presbyterian minister. He even went to the Yale School of Divinity for three years in pursuit of this profession. Waite also worked for Harper & Row as a religious editor. He even had a job as a social worker for a time.
‘The Waltons’ Star Ralph Waite Began Getting Work as an Actor During the 1960s
Once he decided that acting was the career for him, “The Waltons” actor Ralph Waite began working at his craft. His hard work began to pay off during the 1960s.
His first professional acting gig came in 1960. That year, he appeared in a show titled, “The Balcony,” and in another on Broadway titled “Blues for Mister Charlie.” It was during 1965 that critics noticed Waite’s work on stage. He was praised for his work in “Hogan’s Goat,” which starred Faye Dunaway.
After this, he left New York. He then landed roles in such films as “Cool Hand Luke,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and “Last Summer.” Interestingly, “Last Summer,” which debuted in 1969 starred one of Waite’s future costars on “The Waltons.” That co-star was Richard Thomas, the actor who played Waite’s on-screen son, John-Boy Walton.
While “The Waltons” was on television. Ralph Waite also went back to the theatre for work. During this time he appeared in such productions as “Waiting for Godot” and “The Father.” Following the run of “The Waltons,” Waite continued to work. He appeared in such television shows as “All My Children,” “Bones,” “NCIS,” and “Days of Our Lives.”
In addition to his career in acting, “The Waltons” star Ralph Waite also decided to take a chance at a political career. He ran for a seat in the United States Congress in 1990 and in 1998. Both of those campaigns failed.
Interestingly, in 1998 he was running as a Democrat for the seat that became open after the death of Sonny Bono. Bono had died in a skiing accident that year. However, it was Bono’s widow, Mary Bono, who won that race.