Emmy winning actress Jessica Walter has died at age 80. Her daughter, reports say, indicated she died in her sleep. Walter was well known to recent audiences as Lucille Bluth in the zany Netflix sitcom “Arrested Development.”
Ironically Walter — who was featured in dozens of TV roles — had a breakout in Sidney Lumet comedy, “Bye Bye Braverman,” in 1968, co-starring, ironically, George Segal, who just died a few days ago. It was a comedy about a funeral. That in itself sounds like an “Arrested DEvelopment” plot.
Walter took off and was chosen by Clint Eastwood for his directorial debut, “Play Misty for Me.” After that, Walter was simply ubiquitous for 40 years on TV and in movies, highly respected. Her wry sense of humor and comic timing were welcome in any project, and she never failed to hit a bulls eye with each performance.
In 1974, after appearing in a two part “Ironside” with Raymond Burr, Walter got an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in a Limited Series playing the same character, Amy Prentiss, in her own show. She never stopped working. Her resume is that of an actor’s actor, in demand all the time. She and Segal even crossed paths again in episode of his sitcom, “Just Shoot Me,” in 1998.
But in 2003, Walter premiered as Lucille Bluth, matriarch of a hilarious but demented family, on Fox. The show was cancelled and moved to Netflix as a cult sensation. She most recently appeared in an episode of ABC’s “American Housewife.”
Walter also made six appearances on Broadway. She was married to the great actor Ron Leibman from 1983 until his death a couple of years ago.
She will be missed.