15 Feb 2014

Death of Pa Walton actor

9:09 am on 15 February 2014

American actor Ralph Waite, best known for playing Pa Walton has died at the age of 85.

Waites had been acting in films since the 1960s, but found international fame with The Waltons, a TV show that ran from 1972 to 1981.

He played Depression-era rural Virginia homesteader John Walton, a father of seven, who worked hard to look after his family while imparting wisdom and authority to his homespun brood.

Waites received an Emmy nomination in 1978 for the role and another for his performance in the 1977 mini-series Roots, playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship.

In 1975 he founded the Los Angeles Actors Theatre, donating $50,000 to get the company off the ground.

He also appeared with Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson in films such as Cool Hand Luke and Five Easy Pieces.

Waites was previously a Presbyterian minister, social worker and former Marine. The BBC said he remained a working actor until late last year. His appearances included roles in Cliffhanger and The Bodyguard.