Jessica Walter, the actress who portrayed over-the-top characters like Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development and Malory Archer on the FXX animated series Archer, has died. She was 80 years old.
Deadline reports that Walter died in her sleep on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Her daughter, Brooke Bowman, said the following: “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.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jessica Walter began her career in her early twenties acting on stage before crossing over to television and appearing on shows like Naked City, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Flipper, The Fugitive, and Mission: Impossible. She co-starred in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me in 1971, which earned her some acclaim in the industry, and she won an Emmy for her work in the 1975 limited series Amy Prentiss.
Walter spent the majority of her career steadily working on television, popping up on shows like The F.B.I., Mannix, Columbo, Hawaii Five-0, The Love Boat, Magnum, P.I., and many more, eventually expanding into voice work on stuff like Wildfire, The Pirates of Dark Water, and the hit series Dinosaurs (she played Fran, the family matriarch.) Fans of superhero content may be interested to know that she also appeared on an episode of Wonder Woman and as the villain of a Doctor Strange TV movie in 1978.
But frankly, all of that pales in comparison to her legendary work as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, in which she slayed nearly every line reading and created one of the most narcissistic, shrewd, manipulative, and hilarious characters in television history. The number of memorable moments for that character across its initial three season run is practically incalculable, and there are quotes from her that I’ll be repeating for the rest of my life.
Later, Walter voiced a similar personality type on the very funny animated spy series Archer, playing the mother of the lead character and the head of a spy agency. One of her final performances was lending her distinctive voice to the character of Granny Goodness in an episode of the HBO Max animated series Harley Quinn. This is a sad day for the comedy community, and she will be greatly missed.
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