John Walton Actor Ralph Waite Dies at 85; Tributes for ‘Papa Walton’ on Twitter

February 13, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Ralph Waite, the actor who played John Walton on “The Waltons,” died on Thursday, according to reports.

He passed away at his home in South Palm Desert, accountant Steve Gordon told the Hollywood Reporter.

He was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for the show.

He also appeared in “Bones” and “NCIS.”

“RATS! RATS! Bones pal Ralph Waite has passed away,” “Bones” creator Hart Hanson tweeted. “RATS. A truly lovely man we liked a lot.” 

He also appeared in “Days of Our Lives” and the “Roots” miniseries on TV.

Waite appeared in movies including “Cool Hand Luke,” “Five Easy Pieces,” “The Bodyguard,” and “Cliffhanger.”

His character on the Waltons was ranked No. 3 all-time on TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”

He received two Emmy nominations–one in 1978 for his portrayal of Walton, and one in 1977 for his role in “Roots.”

In an interview on YouTube, Waite spoke of his role on the Waltons.

“It’s been my experience ever since we did ‘The Waltons,’ that people have a deep appreciation for that series for some reason,” he said. “It struck a nerve.”

“I don’t take seriously being a hero or an icon–I don’t see myself as that. But I do see myself as being part of a group of actors that brought people some sense of the [dignified] life. The values of education and love–the values that permeate ‘The Waltons.’ I appreciate that,” he said.

“Doesn’t go to my head too much but it goes to my heart,” Waite said, adding that “it is essential to be of service in my estimation to some higher cause.”

Waite ran for Congress–unsuccessfully–as a Democrat sevearl times after 1990. He was defeated tree times, getting beat by GOP incumbent Al McCandless in the Riverside County-area 37th district.

He ran in 1998 in the Palm Springs-based 44th district and lost to Mary Bono in a special election.