Jessica Walter, ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Archer’ star, dies at 80

Emmy-award winning actress Jessica Walter has died, according to family members. She was 80.

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Walter’s daughter told Deadline Hollywood, the first to report the actress’ death, that her mother died in her sleep Wednesday at her home in New York City. A cause of death and other details were not immediately provided.

“A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off,” Bowman said. “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.”

Walter, who launched her career on Broadway in the 1960s, earned high praise for her portrayal of Lucille Bluth, the alcoholic matriarch of the Bluth clan, in the Fox sitcom “Arrested Development.” The show, which is licensed to Netflix, was critically acclaimed during its run and has grown into a cult classic.

“Her voice was unmistakable. Her talent was undeniable,” officials with Netflix said in a social media post following Walter’s death. “Thank you for sharing your gifts with us Jessica Walter. Rest in peace, legend.”

More recently, she provided the voice for spymaster and alcoholic family matriarch Malory Archer on the FX animated sitcom “Archer.”

In 2012, Walter told AV Club that she loved playing difficult women because “those are the fun roles. They’re juicy, much better than playing the vanilla ingénues, you know—Miss Vanilla Ice Cream.”

Walter won an Emmy in 1975 for her portrayal of the title character in NBC’s “Amy Prentiss,” a police drama centered around a San Francisco police detective, according to CNN.

Her feature debut was in the 1964 film “Lilith,” with Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg and Gene Hackman, who was also on his first film. Her most memorable film role was in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller “Play Misty For Me” — her first significant lead — in which she plays Evelyn Draper, the woman who becomes obsessed with Eastwood’s disc jockey character. Walter was widely praised for her unnerving performance.

She won a role in John Frankenheimer’s racing epic “Grand Prix,” from 1966, as the glamorous but discontented wife of a Formula One racer who falls for another driver.

That same year she appeared in Sidney Lumet’s “The Group,” a female-led ensemble about the graduates of a prestigious university (Walter played the catty Libby), and acted for Lumet again in 1968′s “Bye Bye Braverman.”

Walter was twice married: first to Broadway stage manager Ross Bowman and to Tony Award-winning actor Ron Leibman, according to The New York Times. Walter and Liebman were married from 1983 until his death in 2019 at the age of 82, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Walter is survived by her daughter, Brooke Bowman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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