Goodnight, Ralph Waite. The veteran actor best known for playing Waltons patriarch John Walton has died at the age of 85 at his home in Palm Springs, his manager tells the Hollywood Reporter. Waite—who had been in good health and was still working—was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for his portrayal of the father in a tight-knit Southern family. In his later years, he appeared on shows including Bones and NCIS.
His Waltons co-stars say they are devastated by his death, the AP reports. "I loved him so much; I know he was so special to all of us. He was like a real father to me," said Mary McDonough, who played daughter Erin Walton. "Goodnight Daddy. I love you." Michael Learned, who played wife Olivia Walton, says she is mourning a "good honest actor and a good honest man." Waite "was my spiritual husband," she said. "We loved each other for over 40 years. He died a working actor at the top of his game. He was a loving mentor to many and a role model to an entire generation."