Credit: Shutterstock/Ralph Waite

You only mature when you face problems you can’t deal with

Ralph Waite played many roles in his acting career, but is best remembered as the patriarch of TV family The Waltons.

His previous careers included working as a book editor, social worker and Presbyterian minister, before TV and film appearances including in Paul Newman classic Cool Hand Luke. He landed the part of John Walton in the The Waltons when he was 44. The series, originally set in the 1930s, ran from between 1972 and 1981.

Ralph had battled with alcoholism and attempted to launch a political career several times. He said the show changed him forever.

“The Waltons was profoundly important after years of wandering around,” he later said.

“I was cut off from family and friends. It nurtured me back to a sense of family and who I am. It was a transforming experience.”

With the series still broadcast on TV around the world today, it’s testament to the general excellence of Ralph’s performance that he’s ranked among the best TV dads of all time.