Ralph Waite death: 'Waltons,' 'Bones' actor dies at 85

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Ralph Waite, a veteran actor best known for his role on "The Waltons," died on Thursday (Feb. 13). He passed away at his home in South Palm Desert, Calif. at the age of 85.

Waite's first big role was on the 1970s family drama, "The Waltons," in which he played patriarch John Walton. Although nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for the role, Waite had only one TV credit prior to his nine-year run. During this time, the actor received another Emmy nomination for his role in "Roots."

With a multi-decade career that included television, film, theater and even politics, Waite never strayed far from the public eye. He most recently appeared on such shows as "NCIS" and "Bones" -- playing Booth's grandfather, Hank, Waite was last seen in that show's big wedding episode.

"Bones" creator Hart Hanson posted his reaction to the death on Twitter.

Born in New York State on June 22, 1928, Waite initially worked as a social worker and as a minister. He left his church position at the age of 32 and started his acting career on Broadway and in films.

Waite is survived by two daughters.
Photo/Video credit: FOX