PALM DESERT, CA (CNN PATHFIRE) - Actor Ralph Waite, best known as Pa Walton from the TV series "The Waltons" has died at the age of 85.
Waite starred as the patriarch John Walton, Sr. of the iconic TV family from 1972 - 1981.
He also dabbled in politics, attempting several unsuccessful bids for Congress as a Democrat in the Palm Desert area.
Waite continued acting into his 80s, with appearances on current hit shows like "NCIS" and "Bones."
An accountant for Waite's family and his church confirmed his death.
Neither disclosed the cause of death.