In the early 1970s, Ralph Waite, who passed away on Feb. 13 at age 85 in Palm Desert, Calif., already had a solid acting career on Broadway when he was offered a role in a new series. It was to play the father in a rural family who made it through the travails of the Great Depression by sticking to their simple, homespun virtues. It didn't sound that appealing to Waite, who was accustomed to more challenging, edgy stage roles. But his agent reportedly urged him to grab the chance to make a few extra bucks from Hollywood while he had the chance, since The Waltons was likely to be a short-lived flop.
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