Ralph Waite, who played the father in TV's hit CBS series "The Waltons," has died.
Waite's manager, Alan Mills, says the actor died midday Thursday in the Palm Springs area. He was 85.
Waite was best known for his role as the patriarch John Walton in the 1970s series "The Waltons," but he had remained a working actor.
The LA Times reported that Waite was a New York stage actor struggling in Hollywood when he was asked to read for the part on the Walton's, which was first shown as a movie special called "The Homecoming" in 1971.
The newspaper reported that Waite did not want to audition for the show that was set on a mountain in Virginia. But Waite said his agent assured him, "It will never sell. You do the pilot. You pick up a couple of bucks and then you go back to New York."
Waite didn't go back to New York, because the pilot and then the series quickly took off.
The ratings flourished, and Emmys soon followed.
"The Waltons" stayed on the air on CBS for nine seasons and several TV movies and has lived on all these decades since in endless repeats on TV and now DVD.
Mills says Waite appeared recently in recurring roles on shows including "NCIS" and "Days of Our Lives."
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