Ralph Waite (John Walton) was born in White Plains, New York on June 22, 1928. Waite was educated at Bushnell University, where he graduated with a BA. It seems that he tried several occupations, social worker, Presbyterian minister and religious editor, before decided that acting should be his chosen career.

It was not until he was 30 that he began taking acting lessons and he finally made his professional debut in an off Broadway production of The Balcony, but he prefers to consider his REAL debut as being in 1965 when he appeared on Broadway in Hogan's Goat.

Before appearing in The Waltons, Waite appeared in several television series and movies such as Cool Hand Luke, Last Summer and The Borgia Stick. He also appeared in Five Easy Pieces, a film made in 1971, with Jack Nicholson and was so successful in this role that acting offers came his way. It was through the series of The Waltons though, that Waite became so well known, taking on the role of John Walton throughout the series, and continuing this role in each of the Waltons movie specials. The role of John Walton in The Homecoming, however, was played by Andrew Duggan.

During the run of The Waltons Waite was instrumental in forming the Los Angeles Actors' Theatre.

Throughout the seventies, he continued to make many television movies and mini series, appearing in The Secret Life of John Chapman, Roots, On the Nickel, OHMS, and The Gentleman Bandit. In 1980 he also wrote and directed a film called On the Money.

After The Waltons had finished in 1982, he starred in another series, The Mississippi. This was a one hour drama series which starred Waite as a criminal attorney who left the city and his practice to run a riverboat along the Mississippi River, realising a longtime dream. The show, however, was destined to only have a year long run.

He has continued to work on television as an actor throughout the 1980's and the 1990's. His work has included Crime of Innocence, Desperate Hours, The Bodyguard and A Season of Hope. He also provided the voice of Shadow in the movie Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco.

Perhaps most recently, television viewers would remember his roles in Murder One, where he played the very nasty Malcolm Dietrich, Orleans and The Third Twin.

During the run of The Waltons Waite also directed several of the episodes. Since then he has also directed other projects, as well as turning his hand to writing. Recently he has also been seen in a stage production of Death of a Salesman.

For many years, Ralph Waite has had political ambitions and most recently had hoped to be elected as the representative for the seat which Sonny Bono had held for many years. This campaign, however, was unsuccessful.


Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) was born in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 1939. Some of her childhood was spent on the family farm in Connecticut, but by the time she was around ten years old, her family moved to Austria and Michael attended school in England, where her interest in acting developed. Miss Michael Learned, as she was billed during the early part of her career, appeared in several guest roles in shows such as The Doris Day Show, Ironside, Gunsmoke, Police Story and The Streets of San Francisco. She also appeared on stage, with roles in many plays.

She joined the cast of The Waltons as Olivia when it was decided to make a series after the success of The Homecoming. Patricia Neal had played Olivia in the initial movie. Learned stayed with the series until her contract expired late in 1978 and won several Emmy awards for her role during this time. The explanation for her character being written out of the series was that Olivia had contracted tuberculosis and needed to be sent away to Arizona to recuperate. She did agree, however, make a number of appearances, and so the character of Olivia remained in a minor capacity. We do see her in briefly in some of the 1982 movie specials, and she makes a return in the later movies of the 1990's.

After her regular role in The Waltons, she was a very busy actress, making television mini series, movies and appearing in other television series. She appeared in Little Mo, A Christmas Without Snow, All My Sons, Mercy or Murder?, Keeping Secrets and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Other television series in which she appeared were Nurse, Living Dolls, and Hothouse. Her role as Mary in Nurse won her a fourth Emmy award.

Michael continues to act on both stage and screen and perhaps most recently has been seen as a rather nasty character in Profiler.