Jessica Walter, the award-winning actress whose historic turn in the beloved series Arrested Development made her a household name, passed away in her sleep on Wednesday evening, her family announced Thursday (opens in new tab). She was 80.
Walter played the Lucille Bluth in the hit Fox sitcom, which enjoyed an initial three-season run from 2003-2006. Netflix picked up the series for two final seasons, which aired in 2013 and 2018. The character—a ridiculously monstrous and out-of-touch matriarch of a wealthy family which ran into legal and financial troubles—inspired many an internet meme, thanks to Walter’s comedic line readings and unbothered delivery.
The actress, whose career spanned six decades, stole the show in Clint Eastwood's directorial debut Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut Play Misty for Me. Walter also had Emmy-nominated turns in Trapper John M.D. and Streets of San Francisco. She won an Emmy for her starring role in Amy Prentiss, a police drama that aired in the mid-1970s. Walter also voiced Mallory Archer in the hit FX animated sitcom Archer as another pretentious wealthy woman who runs a dysfunctional spy agency.
In a statement to Deadline (opens in new tab), Walter’s daughter Brooke Bowman said: “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.”
Celebrities and fans took to social media to pay tribute to Walter, with many sharing memories of the late actress:
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Oh man!! I loved you Jessica Walter. I grew up watching you AND admiring you. Always consistently excellent. Rest well 💛 https://t.co/40d22s6pA1March 25, 2021
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/0fsXh6CwbSMarch 25, 2021
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 charactersMarch 25, 2021
rest in peace, Jessica Walter, her work in Arrested Development is some of the funniest acting ever done periodMarch 25, 2021
Jessica Walter never missed. If she didn’t get a laugh there was a problem with the script.March 25, 2021
the monstrous mother character is so potent and terrifying and upsetting; it's easy to color in shades of guilt or narcissism or tragedy in there. lucille bluth was a monstrous mother who was somehow also daffy and gorgeous and delighted and ridiculous. entirely jessica walter.March 25, 2021
Rest easy, Jessica Walter, comedic queen. pic.twitter.com/RJS1etC8LdMarch 25, 2021
no https://t.co/piADucRuKgMarch 25, 2021
I wish I could make a martini and then throw the ice in a white man’s face today in honor of Jessica Walter. I feel like she would understand.March 25, 2021
jessica walter. an icon pic.twitter.com/xAIEV8GDQTMarch 25, 2021
RIP to the fabulous Jessica Walter, queen of the undermining zinger.March 25, 2021
jessica walter was the funniest woman on tv for nearly 20 years! an absolute master of her craft pic.twitter.com/7MmXAFh5JdMarch 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/hwBLDyJBETMarch 25, 2021
no one except jessica walter has ever been funny, and no one will ever be funny again. pic.twitter.com/SyezABW6GBMarch 25, 2021
Rest in peace Jessica Walter, who delivered us this fabulous line that applies to many a situation nowadays pic.twitter.com/tccitDxcoLMarch 25, 2021
Zoe Guy is the digital fellow at Marie Claire, where she covers pop culture, hot celebrity gossip, movies and TV. She’s obsessed with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence, anything written by Jesmyn Ward and stan Twitter.
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