'Waltons' actor Ralph Waite dies at age 85
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
- Ralph Waite dies at his Palm Desert, California, home, two sources say
- He was a veteran Hollywood actor, having appeared in many movies and TV series
- He was best known as John Walton Sr. on the hit show "The Waltons"
- Waite worked well into his 80s on shows like "Bones" and "NCIS"
(CNN) -- Veteran character actor Ralph Waite -- who many knew best from his time on "The Waltons," though he also had regular roles in more recent series like "Bones" and "NCIS" -- has died.
He was 85.
Waite died on Thursday afternoon at his Palm Desert, California, home, according to Steve Gordon, his family accountant. Jane Mead, a representative of the Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship that Waite attended regularly, confirmed his death.
According to IMDB.com, Waite was already a Hollywood veteran with parts in movies like "Cool Hand Luke" and "Five Easy Pieces," plus TV series such as "Bonanza" when he landed the role of John Walton Sr.
Click through to see people who passed away in 2014.
Photos: People we lost in 2014
"The Waltons" struck a chord with many viewers during its run from 1972 to 1981, with Waite being a constant on that show as well as in several TV movies to follow.
Waite was twice nominated for an Emmy, first in 1977 for supporting actor in a comedy or drama series for "Roots" and the next year as lead actor in a drama for his Waltons' role.
Waite also tried his hand at politics, running unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a U.S. representative seat that includes Palm Springs -- narrowly losing in 1990 and again in 1998 to Mary Bono, the widow of former congressman and "Sonny and Cher" star Sonny Bono.
These forays didn't stop Waite from continuing his day job, however.
He continued to score regular roles, for instance, on TV shows like "The Mississippi," "Murder One," "Carnivale," "The Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy."
In fact, Waite was busy working right through last year playing recurring characters on not only "Bones" and "NCIS" but also "Days of Our Lives."
Stephan Nathan, "Bones" executive producer, remembered Waites as "a wonderful man."
"A big loss," Nathan tweeted. "RIP."
Pauley Perrette, part of the "NCIS" cast, also tweeted condolences for the man she referred to as Papa Gibbs.
"We love him at NCIS SO much," Perrette said. "So so sad."
People we've lost in 2014
Part of complete coverage on
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1957 GMT (0357 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
Author Joe McGinniss, who chronicled the murder case of former Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book "Fatal Vision," has died. He was 71.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
William Guarnere, a World War II veteran popularized by the "Band of Brothers" miniseries, has died. He was 90.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 2144 GMT (0544 HKT)
Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of "The Honeymoooners," has died. She was 92.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee, the first Asian-American U.S. Marine Corps officer, rose through the ranks beginning his career from World War II to the Vietnam War. He has died at age 88.
Tim Wilson, a comic who incorporated country music into his act, died after suffering a heart attack. He was 52.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Legendary Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, who is credited with transforming the folk art of flamenco into a more vibrant modern sound, has died. He was 66.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2331 GMT (0731 HKT)
Harold Ramis, the actor, writer and director whose films include "Stripes," "Ghostbusters," "Groundhog Day" and "Analyze This," has died. He was 69.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Maria von Trapp, the last of the singing children immortalized in the movie musical "The Sound of Music," died at her Vermont home of natural causes at age 99.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Garrick Utley, who worked as a globetrotting foreign correspondent during the flush decades of network news, has died at age 74 of prostate cancer.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Devo guitarist Bob Casale died at age 61, his brother and band mate announced.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1948 GMT (0348 HKT)
John Henson, a son of the late, great children's entertainment visionary Jim Henson, died after a "sudden, massive heart attack" at age 48.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died -- of a snake bite.
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
Veteran character actor Ralph Waite, who many knew best from his time on "The Waltons," has died.
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy helped define the 1950s "Golden Age of Television," has died. He was 91.
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1912 GMT (0312 HKT)
Shirley Temple Black, who rose to fame as arguably the most popular child star in Hollywood history, has died at age 85.
February 3, 2014 -- Updated 2050 GMT (0450 HKT)
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment.
Today's five most popular stories