Actress Jessica Walter, best known for her role as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, died in her sleep at age 80 on Wednesday. Deadline reports that Walter’s death was confirmed by her daughter Brooke Bowman.
“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,” said Bowman in a statement. “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 addition to her beloved role as Lucille, Walter voiced Malory Archer on the animated comedy series Archer. Prior to her work in comedy, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series in 1975 for portraying the titular character in NBC’s Amy Prentiss. Other acclaimed roles from early in her career included 1966’s Grand Prix, and the 1971 thriller Play Misty for Me, in which she acted opposite star and director Clint Eastwood.
When Walter’s on-screen Arrested Development husband Jeffrey Tambor (George W. Bluth) began facing sexual harassment allegations in 2017, she spoke out about being “verbally harassed” by him while working together, making her remarks to his face. “He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever,” the actress told Tambor, reportedly through tears. “Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go.” She turned to Tambor: “And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.” Fellow star Jason Bateman attempted to excuse and defend Tambor’s behavior, and later apologized to Walter for downplaying the situation.
Despite the way the show went out, with an apathetic critical response to Season 5 in 2018 and 2019, Arrested Development wouldn’t be the show it is without Walter. Responsible for some of the best lines throughout the series, Walter will be missed greatly by fans.
FX released the following statement on the passing of Walter: “We are utterly heartbroken to learn of the passing of Jessica Walter. She was a comedic genius and a brilliant actor who personified wit, grace and elegance. Jessica’s “Malory Archer” served as the bedrock character for the series and we were always honored to have her as member of our FX family. Words cannot describe the monumental loss we and the Archer producers and cast feel. We extend our love, appreciation and condolences to Jessica’s family.”
Adam Reed, creator and executive producer of Archer also released a statement. ”The Archer family is heartbroken to lose Jessica Walter, our beloved colleague and friend,” he said. “Jessica was a consummate professional, an actor’s actor, and the exact opposite of Malory Archer—warm, caring, and kind, with an absolutely cracking sense of humor—and it was both a privilege and a true honor to work with her over these many years. She will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”