Jessica Walter has died at age 80
Beloved actor Jessica Walter passed away in her sleep on Wednesday, March 24. The “Arrested Development” and “Archer” star was 80 years old.
Her daughter Brooke Bowman confirmed the news in a statement.
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom, Jessica,” Bowman said. “A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on-screen and off.”
As we look back on this iconic actor’s life, here are six things you might not have known about Jessica Walter.
Her Breakout Acting Role Was Alongside Clint Eastwood
After several minor roles in television shows like “Naked City,” “Flipper” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” among others, it was her role in “Play Misty for Me” that made her a household name. In the 1971 film, Walter played Evelyn, an obsessed fan who torments a womanizing radio DJ (played by Eastwood) after he ditches her following a one-night stand.
She Won An Emmy In 1975
Although Walter gained cult status for her roles in recent pop culture hits like “Archer” and “Arrested Development,” it was her performance in “Amy Prentiss” that won her an Emmy in 1975. In this crime drama, her character grappled with misogyny as she ascended to her new role of police chief.
Walter And Gene Hackman Shared A Silver Screen Debut
Gene Hackman and Jessica Walter played husband and wife in the 1964 film “Lilith.” It was the first time either iconic actor had ever appeared in a feature film. The movie also starred Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg and Peter Fonda.
She Loved Playing ‘Bad’ Characters
Starting with her role of Libby in Sidney Lumet’s “The Group” (1966) and then her role as Evelyn in “Play Misty for Me” and later her embodiment of the biting matriarch Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development,” Walters often found herself being cast as the seductress or villain. However, the actor said she didn’t mind playing these difficult women.
“[T]hose are the fun roles,” Walter said in an interview with AV Club. “They’re juicy, much better than playing the vanilla ingénues, you know — Miss Vanilla Ice Cream.”
She Also Appeared In Broadway Productions And Soap Operas
Beyond movies and TV shows, Walter was a versatile performer who held roles on stage, including in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Anything Goes” in 2011. She also appeared in soap operas, which gave Walter an appreciation for the rigorous demands of soap opera work.
“I don’t know how those soap opera people do it,” she told AV Club. “My hat is off. I am in awe. One of my dearest friends just was recently on ‘Days of Our Lives’ for two years, and 30 pages a night, these people have … I don’t know how they do it day in, day out. I’m envious. That really is astounding.”
She Wasn’t Afraid To Speak Out
In a brave admission in 2018, Walter said that her “Arrested Development” co-star Jeffrey Tambor behaved unprofessionally on set. Tambor, who has faced several allegations of sexual harassment from co-stars and crew members, blew up at Walters in a way that she had never experienced in 60 years of working in Hollywood.
“I have to let go of being angry at him,” Walter told The New York Times in 2018. “He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize.”
Walter was a marvelous performer and she will be deeply missed. Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.