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Ralph Waite was an American actor best known for playing John Walton Sr. on the 1970s television series The Waltons.
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In 1980, Waite wrote, produced, directed and distributed the film On the Nickel, which told the story of a recovering alcoholic who seeks out a friend on Los Angeles' skid row.
During this same time, in 1977, Waite entered his second marriage, to Kerry Shear Waite. The union didn't last long, however, ending in 1981. After The Waltons ended that same year, the actor continued to work in film, theater and TV, including a number of Waltons TV movies.
Waite married his third wife, Linda East, who would remain with the actor until his death in 2014.
In 1990, Waite acted upon long-held political ambitions and ran for a seat in U.S. Congress as a Democrat in Riverside County, California's 37th District. He ultimately lost the race, however, to GOP incumbent Al McCandless. In 1998, Waite was a late candidate for the seat left vacant by Sonny Bono, who had died in a skiing accident.
Before deciding to run, Waite had signed on to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in New Jersey. Committed to both, the actor turned politician endeavored to do both, traveling on Sunday to California to campaign, and then traveling back to New Jersey on Tuesday. He was ultimately defeated by Bono's widow, Mary Bono.
Following the race, Waite continued to appear in TV roles, occasionally in guest spots on shows such as the legal drama The Practice, HBO's Carnivale and the primetime crime series NCIS and CSI. In 2010, Waite returned to his religious roots and joined the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship in Palm Desert. He also lent his talents to the pulpit, delivering some Sunday sermons.
Ralph Waite died on February 13, 2014, at the age of 85, at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was survived by wife Linda, daughter Kathleen, stepson Liam and three grandchildren.
The acclaimed actor left behind an indelible legacy. "The beauty of life is in people who feel some obligation to enhance life," he once said. "Without that, we're only half alive."
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