Emmy-Winning 'Arrested Development' Actress Jessica Walter Dies At 80

Emmy-Winning 'Arrested Development' Actress Jessica Walter Dies At 80

Walter's co-actors have nothing but praise for her and remember her for the exceptionally talented artist that she was.

Image Source: Getty/Photo by Jamie McCarthy

Emmy award-winning actress Jessica Walter passed away in her sleep on Wednesday, March 24, at her home in New York City. Walter, who was 80 at the time of her death, had quite an illustrious career that spanned six decades. Her sudden death was confirmed by her daughter Brooke Bowman, who according to the Independent, shared a statement saying, "It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica." She added, "A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on-screen and off. While her legacy will live on through her body of work, she will also be remembered by many for her wit, class, and overall joie de vivre."


Walter, who is best know for her roles in Archer and Arrested Development, began her acting career in her hometown New York City. According to Deadline, she appeared in various Broadway productions including Advise and Consent, Neil Simon's Rumors, Nightlife, A Severed Head, and Photo Finish, which won her a Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Newcomer. The talented actress also appeared on stage as she worked at New York’s Playwright’s Horizons the Los Angeles Theater Center, where she appeared in a starring role in Tartuffe opposite her late Emmy-and Tony-winning husband, Ron Leibman, who passed away in 2019. The actress also starred in the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Anything Goes


When it comes to films, Walter was exceptional in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, the 1984 movie The Flamingo Kid, and of course the 1998 comedy Slums of Beverly Hills. On television, Walter was widely known for playing Lucille Bluth, an oblivious wealthy matriarch, in Arrested Development which ran from 2003 to 2006. Her riveting performance on the show earned her two SAG nominations and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress. The show's fourth and fifth season ran from 2018-2019 on Netflix and Walter essayed her role for a part of it.  


In recent times, she voiced Malory Archer on FXX’s animated series Archer. The artist won an Emmy for her starring role in Amy Prentiss, which is an Ironside spinoff in the mid-1970s about a young San Francisco police detective. She also had appeared in Emmy-nominated roles such as Streets of San Francisco and Trapper John, MD, over the years. Back in 1975, she bagged an Emmy for her role in The NBC Mystery Movie for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category. For over a decade, Walter was an elected member of the SAG Board of Directors. She also served as the second National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild. 


When the news of her death broke on Wednesday, heartfelt tributes began pouring in from her Hollywood friends and co-stars. Ron Howard, the executive producer and the narrator of Arrested Development, shared a tweet that read: What a brilliant, funny, intelligent, and strong woman. RIP Jessica Walter, and thank you for a lifetime of laughs and for sharing your incredible talent on our show and with the world. Jason Bateman, who appeared in the role of Lucille Bluth's son Michael Bluth, shared, What an incredible career, filled with amazing performances. I will forever remember my time with her, watching her bring Lucille Bluth to life. She was one of a kind.



Walter is survived by her daughter Brooke Bowman and grandson Micah Heymann. Instead of flowers, the icon's family asked her fans and loved ones to make donations to Guiding Eyes for the Blind



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