Jessica Walter, the legendary actress whose six-decade career in show business included spanned everything from the Broadway stage to Arrested Development and voice roles on shows like Archer and Dinosaurs, has died at the age of 80. Walter reportedly passed away in her sleep at her home in New York City on Wednesday night.
Walter’s career included a standout performance in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut Play Misty for Me in 1971, as well as an Emmy-winning turn in the police drama Amy Prentice. She is perhaps best known as Lucille Bluth, the boozy and hilariously entitled matriarch of the Bluth family on Arrested Development. Walter earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress as well as two SAG nominations for her work on the series.
Her time on Arrested Development wasn’t without its share of controversy, however. In May 2018, she broke down in tears during a cast interview with the New York Times over the verbal abuse she had endured on set from co-star Jeffrey Tambor, saying that “in almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set and it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now … He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go.” Her male castmates — Jason Bateman, David Cross and Tony Hale — were widely criticized for appearing to justify Tambor’s behavior in the interview; all three subsequently issued apologies to her.
Walter is survived by her daughter Brooke Bowman, who is SVP of Drama Programming at Fox Entertainment, and her grandson Micah Heymann.
Bowman issued a statement about her mother’s death, writing, “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.”
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