Jessica Walter, the Emmy Award winning actor who best known for her role as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, died in her sleep at her New York home on Wednesday. She was 80.
Walter’s daughter, Brooke Bowman, a Fox entertainment executive, said in a statement to Deadline, “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 New York City on January 31, 1941, Walter was best known for her stint in Arrested Development, for which she received an Emmy nomination in 2005 for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy. She also had three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy, in 2005, 2006 and 2014 for the same show.
In 1975, she won an Emmy Award for her role as the title character, in the NBC mystery Amy Prentiss. She was also nominated for Emmy Awards for The Streets of San Francisco in 1977, Trapper John, M.D. in 1980.
Walter also worked in several films. Her most notable big-screen role was in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller Play Misty For Me, John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, and Sidney Lumet’s The Group, both of which released in 1966.
She was also an ardent theatre performer, starting off the stage career in her hometown and giving a few of her best performances in Broadway productions like Advise and Consent, Neil Simon’s Rumors, A Severed Head, Night Life, and Photo Finish.
With the news of her passing, several co-stars and other names of Hollywood poured their tribute on social media.
Jason Bateman, who starred as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, wrote, “I will forever remember my time with her, watching her bring Lucille Bluth to life. She was one of a kind.”
R. I. P. Jessica Walter. 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. All my love and thoughts to her family.
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) March 25, 2021
Another co-star, Tony Hale, who played her son in the same show, wrote, “She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched.”
She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched. Rest In Peace Mama Bluth. pic.twitter.com/wJeOeJleR3
— Tony Hale (@MrTonyHale) March 25, 2021
“I consider myself privileged and very lucky to have been able to work with her,” wrote David Cross, who also starred in Arrested Development.
I just heard the shitty news about Jessica Walter an absolutely brilliant actress and amazing talent. I consider myself privileged and very lucky to have been able to work with her. Lucille Bluth is one of TV’s greatest characters
— david cross✍ (@davidcrosss) March 25, 2021
Among others who penned tributes were Alia Shawkat, Aisha Tyler, Viola Davis, Dylan Gelula, Edgar Wright, and others.
View this post on Instagram
Jessica Walter was a queen in every way: kind, classy, incredibly talented, generous with love & support. And so insanely funny. She was the brilliant center of our @archerfxx universe. Sweet flight to you, dear Jessica. You were so loved, and we were so lucky to know you. 💔 pic.twitter.com/0fsXh6CwbS
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) March 25, 2021
Oh man!! I loved you Jessica Walter. I grew up watching you AND admiring you. Always consistently excellent. Rest well 💛 https://t.co/40d22s6pA1
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) March 25, 2021
jessica played my grandmother on one of my 1st jobs in 2014. i got to meet one of the sharpest funniest hardest working actors ill ever know right out of the gate. once she turned to me and said “dont let them fuck with you”. im still not positive what she meant but she was right pic.twitter.com/bxsiYVlmfH
— dylan gelula (@DylanGelula) March 25, 2021
I loved Jessica Walter. For me, knowing her mostly from dramatic work in films like ‘Play Misty For Me’ just made the comic genius of her turn in ‘Arrested Development’ even more delightful. You can watch her reactions shots on a loop. Lucille Bluth Forever. pic.twitter.com/hwBLDyJBET
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 25, 2021
Walter, who was married to the late Ron Leibman, is survived by her daughter and a grandson.