Lewis Arquette loved being the head of a talented acting family
The veteran character actor's best-known role came on The Waltons.
On The Waltons, veteran character actor Lewis Arquette played J.D. Pickett, the man in charge of the factory where Erin Walton works.
From 1978-1981, Arquette appeared 11 times on The Waltons, with J.D. Pickett becoming his biggest and best-known TV role.
At home, Lewis was head of a large family. His kids Patricia, Alexis, Rosanna, Richmond and David all followed in his footsteps to become actors, too, just as Lewis followed in his vaudeville-performing father Cliff’s footsteps.
The Arquettes just have acting in their blood.
Much has been said about acting rivalries between the family members, especially after Patricia became the first family member to win an Oscar in 2015.
But despite each family member going through ups and downs, the family has stressed there was never competition between them to outdo one another onscreen.
"People expect friction," Rosanna Arquette told the San Francisco Examiner in 1995 when Patricia’s career began taking off. "Leave us alone! I’m incredibly proud of Patricia."
His kids said their father might have been the proudest of all of each family member’s individual successes.
He regularly told reporters how proud he was of his acting kids, and after winning her Oscar, Patricia told E! Online that her dad was responsible for encouraging them all to chase their own dreams.
"He was funny; he loved his kids," Patricia said. "He loved being a dad, and he wanted us to figure out who we were as individuals."
By the time Patricia snagged her Oscar, both her dad Lewis and her mom Brenda had passed away, her from breast cancer in 1997 and him from a heart attack in 2001.
Her brother David was there to tell Patricia how proud their mom and dad would’ve been to see her big win, though.
"I hope you know how proud I am of you and how proud our parents must be of you," David said.
"I'm so proud of you because you're one of the realest people in the world, and that makes you one of the realest actresses in the world," David told her. "And just everything you do is an inspiration to me, and our family, and we couldn't be prouder."
There is often a failure to capture the nuance of this talented family’s bond, with many media outlets running with the assumption that the family dealt with career jealousies.
Rosanna told The Guardian in 2019 that she did think that her dad was disappointed that his career never took off as much as his kids’ did. His kids’ success showed him the career he missed out on.
"He was a struggling actor who never really made it and then his kids all became, you know, stars," Rosanna said.
Lewis’ career, though, is speckled with many outstanding and memorable performances. That included TV roles in The Waltons and Seinfeld, as well as movie roles in comedies like Waiting for Guffman and Little Nicky, and compelling dramas like The China Syndrome and Tango & Cash.
He also did a ton of voicework in cartoons.
Although he didn’t win an Oscar, Lewis never stopped working, taking roles right up to his death in 2001. He always knew he had the goods, proving himself as a singer, actor, dancer and puppeteer, and using that to his advantage to secure role after role.
"I've always been a kind of quadruple-threat guy, doing anything I could do," Lewis said in 1966.