Waite played John Walton on The Waltons, which ran from 1971-81, and had recurring roles on Bones, NCIS, and Days of Our Lives.
“Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest man,” said Michael Learned, who played his on-screen wife Olivia Walton.
“He was my spiritual husband. 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.”
The cast and crew of NCIS, on which Waite played the father of Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, said in a statement: “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.”
Bones co-creators Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan said, “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 (David Boreanaz) plainspoken, loving, war hero grandfather. The entire Bones family sends condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Waite received an Emmy nomination for his role in The Waltons, and another for his performance in the 1977 mini-series Roots, playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship.