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Associated Press
This photo released by CBS shows Ralph Waite, as Jackson Gibbs, in an episode "The Namesake" from "NCIS," on Tuesdays, 8/7 CT on the CBS Television Network . Waite, 85, who played the father in TV's hit series "The Waltons," has died. Waite's manager, Alan Mills, says the actor died midday Thursday, in the Palm Springs area.

’Waltons’ patriarch Ralph Waite dies at 85

LOS ANGELES – Ralph Waite, who played the kind patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series “The Waltons,” has died, his manager said Thursday. He was 85.

Waite, who lived in the Palm Springs area, died midday Thursday, said his manager, Alan Mills.

Mills did not know the cause of death. He said he was taken aback because Waite had been in good health and still working. He appeared last year in episodes of the series “NCIS,” “Bones” and “Days of Our Lives.”

“He was a wonderful guy,” Mills said. “He was always kind, always generous, and a joy to work with.”

“The Waltons,” which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, starred Waite as Ralph Walton, and Richard Thomas played his oldest son, John-Boy, an aspiring novelist. The gentle family drama was set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

The show was narrated by its creator, Earl Hamner Jr., who based it on his family memories.

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