Waltons Patriarch Ralph Waite Dead at 85

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Ralph Waite DeadThe Waltons star Ralph Waite, who more recently recurred on Bones and NCIS, has died at the age of 85, our sister site Deadline reports.

Waite portrayed John Walton Sr. for nine seasons on the CBS Depression-era drama and in three NBC telefilms. After the series wrapped, he appeared on Murder One, Carnivàle and the miniseries Roots among others.

Bones fans will recognize Waite as Booth’s grandfather and caretaker Hank. He also played dad to Mark Harmon’s character Gibbs on NCIS, and recurred on Days of Our Lives as Father Matt.

Bones executive producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan issued the following statement:

“All of us at Bones mourn the loss of Ralph Waite.  We loved having him on set and in many ways his character was the moral center of our show as Booth’s plainspoken, loving, war hero grandfather.  The entire Bones family sends condolences to his family and loved ones.”


While the NCIS cast and crew issued this remembrance:

“Everyone at NCIS is deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague Ralph Waite. Ralph was family to us, a tremendous talent and a very special man. We truly cherish the time we had with him. Our hearts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”


Waite’s Bones and NCIS co-stars also took to Twitter to react to the actor’s passing.



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Comments (98)

  • My heart just broke. We have lost a treasure, and will be dearly missed, lovingly remembered.

    Comment by Sarah – February 13, 2014 05:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • perfectly said – i agree completely

      Comment by lisa – February 13, 2014 05:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Mine broke too. He was such a class act.

      Comment by Susan – February 13, 2014 06:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Couldn’t say it any better.

      Comment by Barbara Darlin – February 13, 2014 07:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oh Sarah. You said it so well. You could see from all of his characters – but especially on the Waltons, NCIS and Bones that he was a very special soul. He will be truly missed.

      Comment by tvdiva – February 14, 2014 12:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How utterly sad to read this news. I’ve liked him for a very long time. Great actor. He will be greatly missed.

    Comment by Kat – February 13, 2014 05:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My condolences to his family.TV has lost a legend.I’m wondering if NCIS will have Gibbs father die next season and have the character deal with that.

    Comment by Andrew Hass – February 13, 2014 05:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They’ve still got time to do it this season….

      Here’s hoping they don’t wait as long as they waited with Ducky’s mom

      Comment by as524 – February 13, 2014 07:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yes, I hope Gary Glasberg is now making plans to address this on-screen this season. I want a full-on episode (or at least the B story in an episode.) The Waltons was a bit before my time, so Ralph Waite will always be Jackson Gibbs to me. Both actor and character will be very much missed.

        Comment by Andrea – February 14, 2014 05:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I, too, would like to see a memorial episode for Jackson Gibbs (Ralph Waite). He will be sorely missed. I’m sure he was a good person, and a wonderful actor. It always amazed me how he could put a twinkle in his eye on an NCIS episode when any of the “girls” shared dialog with him. His back-and-forth with Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was always from the heart for both actors.

          Comment by Elaine Byrne – February 14, 2014 09:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • He has been recurring on days of our lives for the past couple years also

    Comment by Liam – February 13, 2014 05:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So so sad. Such a great character as Jackson Gibbs on NCIS. He will be missed.

    Comment by Mary Bucklew – February 13, 2014 05:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP!! Don’t forget to add in his long-term DAYS OF OUR LIVES role. He is still appearing in eps.

    Comment by RIP – February 13, 2014 05:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am so sad. He was a great actor!

    Comment by Janet – February 13, 2014 05:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What a month of losses: Shirley Temple, Sid Ceasar and now Ralph Waite. Very sad indeed.

    Comment by Barb – February 13, 2014 05:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I know! How much sadness in such a short time. :-(

      Comment by TVidiot – February 13, 2014 06:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was going to agree and say these things come in threes and then I remembered Phillip Seymour Hoffman. A sad month indeed.

      Comment by Rob – February 13, 2014 07:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So sad. Rest In Peace.

    Comment by ScorpionGlow – February 13, 2014 05:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am so sad about this….he was a legend…and most recently I just LOVED him on Bones as Booth’s pops/grandfather Hank. They were a great team Ralph Waite and David Boreanaz. RIP Ralph :(

    Comment by J – February 13, 2014 05:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I know! Not pops! Was really looking forward to him on Bones again. So sad

      Comment by Deena – February 13, 2014 06:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This makes me sad as I have loved him for years. I have most recently enjoyed him as Father Matt, the voice of reason and morality, on Days of Our Lives.

    Comment by Christy – February 13, 2014 05:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Goodnight Mr. Waite. You will be missed.

    Comment by writingmyownway – February 13, 2014 05:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Awww-this makes me so sad. I was always so happy when I saw him in anything I was watching. Very fond memories of watching The Waltons when I was growing up. He will be missed.

    Comment by SuperTech – February 13, 2014 06:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Father Matt!!!! And ironically I’m currently watching s2 of Carnivale as we speak. Very sad news.

    Comment by wrstlgirl – February 13, 2014 06:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP Jackson Gibbs. One of a kind – a true legend…. Rest Easy, Ralph Waite….

    Comment by sladewilson – February 13, 2014 06:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good-night Pa Walton…gone home to the mountain.

    Comment by Dalyce – February 13, 2014 06:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Damn, I hate reading this. I loved him on Bones as Booth’s grandfather/”Pops”! Sigh. May Mr. Waite rest in peace. :-(

    Comment by Wendy – February 13, 2014 06:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I only know him as Jackson Gibbs, but his episodes were always some of the best.

      Comment by JC – February 13, 2014 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • That was meant to be a stand alone comment – I hit reply on accident. Sorry about that. :(

        Comment by JC – February 13, 2014 06:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • He really was great as both Gibbs’ father and Booth’s grandfather. I wouldn’t be able to say which I enjoyed more.

        He’s in the episode of Bones they’re repeating tomorrow. It’s the wedding episode and Pops was of course there.

        I really hope both shows do something to honor him within an episode before this season is over. There should still be time for that; shouldn’t there?

        Comment by frankie707 – February 13, 2014 06:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I hope both shows make the time–he was a wonderful addition to both of them.

          Comment by suzi – February 13, 2014 06:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good by pa Walton

    Comment by Larry – February 13, 2014 06:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I gasped at the news. Such a loss…

    Comment by Ashley – February 13, 2014 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The acting world has lost another great RIP Mr. Waite

    Comment by bill – February 13, 2014 06:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • He also has been playing Gibbs’ father on NCIS lately.

    Comment by Brian Smith – February 13, 2014 06:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Goodnight John Sr. RIP

    Comment by A. D. – February 13, 2014 06:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was loving him as both Jackson and Hank. I hope both shows give him a good good bye episode.

    Comment by Kim – February 13, 2014 06:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Rest in peace Ralph Waite. his career had spanded decades. I remember him from NCIS as Gibbs father.
    Earlier in the season there was mention of him being on the 250th episode. I wonder what they will do with his role of Jackson I hope they do a nice tribute to him and no just have it in passing the had passed away.

    Comment by Nicole – February 13, 2014 06:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is so sad. I’ve loved him as Gibbs’ father and Booth’s grandfather. Perfect roles for him and he did such a good job. Now both shows are probably going to have tearjerker episodes working his death into each storyline. Better stock up on tissues.

    Comment by Kathie Menker – February 13, 2014 06:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where’s the American Idol recap?

    Comment by Anon – February 13, 2014 06:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m devastated. Fantastic actor and seemed like such a decent, honest man. :’(

    Comment by Kate – February 13, 2014 06:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP Poppa Walton. he was a good man and loved by many

    Comment by Bob – February 13, 2014 06:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is so sad. :( RIP Pops.

    Comment by Sarah – February 13, 2014 06:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am so sad about Mr. Waite’s passing. I’m not from the Walton’s generation, but I loved him so much as Gibbs’ dad on NCIS. My all-time favorite NCIS episode is Jackson’s first appearance in the Heartland episode during Season 6, with the flashbacks of young Gibbs meeting Shannon at the train station in town. Such a lovely episode that has a permanent spot on my DVR. He will be so missed. Condolences to his family and friends.

    Comment by MP – February 13, 2014 06:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There are precious few TRUE father figures on TV, Ralph leaves an impressive legacy!

    Comment by TV Gord – February 13, 2014 06:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will never not think of John Walton but in later years he always made me smile to see him as Jackson Gibbs. He was simply great !!

    Comment by Dee – February 13, 2014 07:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • He was also recurring on DOOL wasn’t he?

    Comment by dee123 – February 13, 2014 07:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Father Matt.

      Comment by wrstlgirl – February 13, 2014 07:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So Sad, grew up with you on the waltons… and loved you on Ncis, you will be missed!
    RIP Ralph

    Comment by reg – February 13, 2014 07:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved him on NCIS, and he made me love the character of Gibbs’ dad. I hope they recast the role.

    Comment by prish – February 13, 2014 07:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I hope NCIS does not recast the role. I’d rather Jackson (as a World War II vet) receive an on-screen military funeral with honors.

      Comment by Andrea – February 14, 2014 05:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I agree with you wholeheartedly that Mr. Waite [aka, “Jackson Gibbs”, my favorite character} should have a full honor military funeral in real life and on the show with the NCIS cast as pallbearers.

        Comment by Jack – February 14, 2014 09:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • well both shows could use this for a mini arc
        on ncis he is kidnapped and found dead,on bones mostly the same
        think how gibbs and booth would react, gibbs with losing zeva

        Comment by Bruce – February 14, 2014 11:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Godspeed, and “Good Night, Daddy.” Time to rest now…

    Comment by Michelle Monroe – February 13, 2014 07:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My Condolences to his family as well as his Tv Family. I know the #Boneheads will miss him greatly

    Comment by Bonnie Rexeus – February 13, 2014 07:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m so sad to hear of his passing, my heart just broke in piece. Great person on and of tv. He’ll be missed. My thoughts go out to his friends and family!

    Comment by Sarah-Ann – February 13, 2014 07:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s always in threes. Shirley Temple, Sid Caesar and now Mr. Waite. RIP

    Comment by Stormy – February 13, 2014 07:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Don’t forget Philip Seymour Hoffman was earlier this month….it’s been so sad. But those three in three days…awful.

      Comment by Sarah – February 13, 2014 07:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Hoffman was not of the same era as the others. Also, the other died of natural causes.

        Comment by Jeff – February 14, 2014 06:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • David Boreanaz spelled Ralph’s last name wrong!
    Show some respect!
    I guess he’s used to everyone spelling his name wrong so must think it’s the norm.

    Comment by GuessWhat – February 13, 2014 07:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This year isn’t doing well.

    Comment by WonderWaage – February 13, 2014 07:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • R.I.P. Mr. Waite….our love & prayers go with you!

    Comment by Mona – February 13, 2014 07:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP John Walton. RIP Pops Booth and finally RIP Jackson Gibbs. Incredible impact on television, from the 70′s up to the end of his life. Wow. He will be missed.

    Comment by Stacey – February 13, 2014 07:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So sad. Loved him as John Walton and as Jackson Gibbs. I hope they address his death on his current shows. Wonderful actor that will be missed.

    Comment by Sharon – February 13, 2014 08:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ralph Waite was my hero. Loved him on the Waltons–a wonderful father figure…………was pleased to see him on NCIS and Bones too – again as a father figure and grandfather too.
    He was every man and woman’s father figure. God Bless you Ralph Waite. We will miss you.

    Comment by Judith Hamby – February 13, 2014 08:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • John Walton, we will not forget you nor will forget Waltons Mountain. Cast members of great character and you epitomized that character. John/Ralph you will be missed as will Sid Caesar,Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Andy Griffith, Ted Knight, Jerry Reed, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Walker, Lucille Ball, Harvey Korman, John Candy, John Belushi and so many others. If you think about all the actors and singers who have passed away in the last 10 to 20 years you’ll realize that it’s not only the older generation but that the young die also. John/Ralph and ALL the other GREATS, may you ALL Rest In Peace. You will be missed.

    Comment by Craig Ritsema – February 13, 2014 08:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Good night daddy! My children grew up with the waltons and we also said goodnight to each other. I have been watching the episodes on ISPN. & hallmark. They make me feel good & less alone in my old years (73). Also it was a gentler kinder time. Bless him & his family & Walton’s cast. :))

    Comment by Melinda Sherry – February 13, 2014 08:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Loved him on NCIS and Carnivale. RIP

    Comment by Joey – February 13, 2014 09:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RIP

    Comment by N – February 13, 2014 09:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was watching NCIS season 6, a small little episode called “Heartland” when I decided I would look online to find out when or if Mr. Waite was scheduled to appear on NCIS again in season 11 and was all happy about the hopes i had for seeing him on the show again, when the news then popped up that he had passed away, I almost broke down I tears, I loved him as booth’s granddad and all, but it was him as Jackson Gibbs which made me love him, especially the episodes “The Namesake” & “Better Angels”. I do hope that neither show ignores it (doubt they would since his characters added so much to booth and jethro) but I also hope they give him a excellent ending and hopefully for NCIS, will bring back Billy Dee Williams character of Jethro Moore for Jackson’s goodbye.

    Thank you Mr. Waite, we all loved you and you will be missed.

    Comment by Gritree – February 13, 2014 10:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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