He was on the NBC soap "Days of Our Lives" as late as a few weeks ago -- he played an elderly priest, and I had been glad to see that he was still active. Of course we'll all remember him from his role on "The Waltons."
Starting with his first feature film in 1967, Paul Newman's COOL HAND LUKE, Ralph Waite was primarily a character actor. His activity in features was at a high pitch in 1971-72 when he appeared in eight films, just prior to his being cast in "The Waltons," which began airing in September 1972.
It was in 1972 that Waite received his first credits on film posters. The first was in a small drama called HOT SUMMER WEEK, in which he played the head of the "Big Sur Institute for Human Potential," an encounter-group community.
During the last year of "The Waltons," in 1980, Ralph Waite wrote, produced, and directed a small independent film of his own. The R-rated feature, ON THE NICKEL, was about two bums (Waite and Donald Moffat) and their experiences on L.A.'s skid row. Fred Myrow (SOYLENT GREEN) scored the film.
In 1996, Waite provided the voice for "Shadow," the wise golden retriever, in Disney's HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO. Waite replaced the late Don Ameche, who had done the voice in the original 1993 HOMEWARD BOUND film.