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R.I.P. Jessica Walter, Arrested Development Actress Dead at 80

The Emmy Award-winning actress passed away in her sleep on Wednesday

Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth
Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth, photo via IFC
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Jessica Walter, the Emmy Award-winning actress who famously played Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, has died at the age of 80.

According to Deadline, Walter passed away in her sleep at her home in New York City on Wednesday, March 24th. Her daughter, SVP or Drama Programming at Fox Entertainemtn Brooke Bowman, said in a statement,

“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica. 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.”

A native of Brooklyn, Walter began her career in theater before making the transition to television in the early 1960s. Her early credits included The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, For the Hour alongside William Shatner, and The Fugitive.

Walter’s big break came in 1971 with her casting in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, in which she played a young woman suffering from a borderline personality disorder who becomes infatuated with and stalks a disc jockey. The performance earned Walter a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. The honor came five years after she was up for the Most Promising Newcomer award.

Three years later, she received her first Emmy Award for her titular role in the short-lived NBC Ironside spinoff Amy Prentiss. While that would be her only win, she was later nominated for her appearances in Trapper John M.D. and Streets of San Francisco.

Of course, Walter will be most remembered for her beloved role as the Bluth family’s alcoholic socialite matriarch in Arrested Development. She portrayed the role of Lucile Bluth during the show’s initial three season run on FOX between 2003 and 2006, receiving an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series as well as two SAG nominations. She later reprised the character for a two-season revival that aired on Netflix in 2013 and 2018.

Walter also voiced the spymaster Malory Archer on the FX animated series Archer. The Emmy-winning and perennial Critics’ Choice favorite series completed its 11th season on FXX in October 2020 and was swiftly renewed for a 12th.

Off screen, Walter served as 2nd National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild. For over a decade, she also served as an elected member on the SAG Board of Directors, a testament to how well loved she was amongst the acting community.

In addition to Bowman, Walter is survived by her grandson, Micah Heymann. The family requests that those wishing to express their condolences make donations to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in lieu of flowers.

Click on to see tributes to Walter from Arrested Development co-stars Tony Hale, David Cross, Alia Shawkat, and Henry Winkler, as well as from other Hollywood luminaries.

Tributes to Jessica Walter:

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