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Hollywood is saying a fond goodnight to Ralph Waite, who played beloved family patriarch John Walton on The Waltons for nine years. The actor died midday on Thursday at his home in South Palm Desert.
Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton from 1971 to 1981, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement: “There are no words to express the loss of Ralph Waite. My friend, my co-worker, my ‘Daddy.’
“You will forever live on in my heart and in the lives of all you have touched over your lifetime. We are lucky to have known you. R.I.P — good night.”
“I am devastated to announce the loss of my precious ‘papa’ Walton, Ralph Waite,” expressed Mary McDonough, who portrayed Norton’s onscreen sister, Erin Walton. “I loved him so much; I know he was so special to all of us. He was like a real father to me. Goodnight Daddy. I love you.”
Michael Learned, who appeared on the series for seven years as Olivia Walton, revealed: “Ralph was a good honest actor and a good honest man. He was my spiritual husband.
“We loved each other for over forty 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. I’m devastated.”
In addition to The Waltons, the actor recurred on CBS’ NCIS in recent years, and the show’s Pauley Perrette was among those remembering him on social media. “So Sad. Ralph Waite has passed away. Papa Gibbs. We love him at NCIS SO much. So so sad,” she tweeted.
The actor appeared on three episodes of Fox’s Bones from 2009-2013. Bones executive producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan also mourned his loss.
“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,” the pair said in a statement to THR.
We’ll update this post as more remembrances come in.
So Sad. Ralph Waite has passed away. Papa Gibbs. We love him at NCIS SO much. So so sad.
— Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) February 14, 2014
— Lizza Monet Morales (@xoxoLizza) February 14, 2014
— Gigi Graciette (@GigiGraciette) February 14, 2014
Today #Bones lost Ralph Waite. A wonderful man. A big loss. RIP.
— Stephen Nathan (@squarechicken) February 14, 2014
RATS! RATS! Bones pal Ralph Waite has passed away. Booth’s grandfather. http://t.co/6ivWA4qWTE RATS. A truly lovely man we liked a lot.
— Hart Hanson (@HartHanson) February 14, 2014
Another great one gone #@AP: BREAKING: Ralph Waite, the rock-solid father of TV’s ‘The Waltons,’ dies at 85: http://t.co/Frrnx6s5jk”
— Bo Derek (@boderek) February 14, 2014
Ralph Waite RIP ,you’ll will be very much missed .It was an honor and always a pleasure to work with you .
— Kristian Alfonso (@KJAlfonso) February 14, 2014
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek