Jessica Walter, Beloved 'Arrested Development' Star, Has Died

by Kristine Cannon
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Jessica Walter passed away peacefully in her New York City home

Award-winning actress and beloved Arrested Development star Jessica Walter has died. According to Deadline, Walter passed away in her sleep at her New York City Home on March 24 at 80.

“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica,” says Walter’s daughter, Brooke Bowman, who is SVP Drama Programming at Fox Entertainment. Walter is also survived by her grandson Micah Heymann.

“A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off,” Bowman continues. “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 is known for many of her tremendous on-screen roles.

In addition to voicing Malory Archer on the animated series Archer, which she worked on alongside her late husband Ron Leibman, Walter is more widely known for playing Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development — a role that earned her on Emmy nomination in 2015 for Outstanding Supporting Actress, as well as two SAG nominations.

“She’s engaged, she’s aware of everything that’s going on. She always wants to know what you’re doing,” Walter’s Arrested Development co-star Alia Shawkat said of the late actress in a 2019 interview with Elle. “I think it’s a mentality that comes from an older era of Hollywood. To her, it’s a form of respect — for your craft and also for you, the people she works with — to show that she’s informed.”

Walter also earned Emmy noms for her roles on Trapper John M.D. and Streets of San Francisco, but won an Emmy for her role in Amy Prentiss.

“I did the circuit. My God, I did the circuit. If it’s a good role, I don’t care what the medium is, I take it,” Walter told Elle, later saying of her roles:

“Even my ‘leading ladies’ — you know, in air quotes — were characters. They were not Miss Vanilla Ice Cream. They weren’t holding the horse while John Wayne galloped into the sunset.”

Raised in Astoria, Queens, Walter grew up in a creative household.

Her father David Walter was a world-class musician and member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the NYC Ballet Orchestra. So, it comes as no surprise she would pursue an education in the arts: She attended the High School for the Performing Arts — the school that inspired Fame — and later graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater.

Walter would later win landing roles in Broadway productions, including Advise and Consent, Neil Simon’s Rumors, A Severed Head, Nightlife, and Photo Finish, which earned her the Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Newcomer, Rolling Stone reports. Later, in 2011, she was cast in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which won several Tony Awards.

Jessica Walter, you will be missed.