SOUTH PALM DESERT, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Actor Ralph Waite died Thursday at his home in South Palm Desert, Calif., a family spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter. He was 85.
The cause of his death was not disclosed.
Best known for playing patriarch John Walton on the family drama "The Waltons," the native New Yorker was an ordained minister and former social worker who also acted in the miniseries "Roots," as well as the TV series "The Mississippi," "Carnivale" and "NCIS. His film credits include "Cool Hand Luke," "Five Easy Pieces," "Lawman," "The Grissom Gang," "Dime Box" and "Sporting Club."
He also founded the Los Angeles Actors Theatre in 1975 and served as its director, the Reporter said.
Waite is survived by Linda East, his third wife; and his daughters Kathleen and Suzanne Waite.