The family of Jessica Walter have confirmed that the veteran actor has died at the age of 80. She passed away on Wednesday evening while asleep in New York City.
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica,” Walter daughter Brooke Bowman announced in a statement. “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.”
In recent years, Jessica Walter has been best known for portraying one of the best characters in modern comedy, the mother passed caring for anyone but herself and cocktails, Lucile Bluth in the sitcom Arrested Development. As well as a starring voiceover role in the animated spy comedy Arthur. Her caustic wit shone through both characters and cut her out as a very singular comedic actor in the current scene.
These misanthropic roles were fuelled by Walter’s love for classic cinema, having once told IndieWire, “I love watching movies with people that I hate. I love those old movies with Bette Davis where she’s the evil one. Because we all have that in us, and we can’t really act on it as the audience, but we can watch the actor act on it and it sort of releases those feelings in us.”
Tributes have poured in from her co-stars in the acclaimed sitcom Arrested Development, with Tony Hale, who played her son Buster in series stating: “She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched, Rest In Peace Mama Bluth.”
With fellow co-star David Cross, writing, “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.”
In the earlier years of her career, she worked alongside Donna Mills and Clint Eastwood, who also directed the picture, in the psychological thriller, Play Misty for Me. The performance earned her a Golden Globe Nomination for best actress in a motion picture.
She went on to receive over 160 acting credits to her name and received an Emmy award in 1975 for her role as a police detective in the NBC crime series Amy Prentiss.
Lines like, “I mean it’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost? Ten dollars?” will live long in the mind. The star will be remembered and loved by many, as actor Jason Bateman wrote, “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 thoughts and love to her family.”