The award-winning US actress Jessica Walter has died aged 80, her family have announced.
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom,” Walter’s daughter Brooke 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,” Ms Bowman said.
Walter is best known for playing icy matriarch Lucille Bluth in the Arrested Development TV sitcom in the 2000s.
She also won an Emmy for starring as a detective in the police drama Amy Prentiss in the 1970s.
“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,” Ms Bowman said.
The Deadline website, which first reported the news, quoted the family as saying that Walter had died in her sleep at her home in New York.
Some of Walter’s most memorable lines in Arrested Development were delivered over a Vodka Martini or between glasses of wine.
- Lucille Bluth: “Get me a vodka rocks.”
- Michael Bluth (son): “Mom, it’s breakfast.”
- Lucille Bluth: “And a piece of toast.”
During her long career, Walter starred in several popular TV dramas and sitcoms, like NCIS and Law & Order, and also appeared in a number of films.
She also voiced Malory Archer in the animated series Archer.
One of Walter’s starring movie performances was alongside Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, earning her a Golden Globe nomination.
She also starred in Grand Prix (1966), which also saw her nominated for a Golden Globe.
Among her TV comedy cameos, Walter played Mrs Latham, a university benefactor who seduces Leonard in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Tony Hale, who played Walter’s son Buster n Arrested Development, paid tribute to her, saying “her talent and timing were unmatched”.
Jason Bateman, who played Walter’s son Michael in the show, said she had had “an incredible career, filled with amazing performances”.
“I will forever remember my time with her, watching her bring Lucille Bluth to life,” he wrote on Twitter. “She was one of a kind.”
Will Arnett, another star of the show, remembered her as “a deeply talented person” he had first encountered in 1996.
“I was instantly blown away,” he wrote on his own Twitter account. “I’m fortunate to have had a front row seat to her brilliance for 25 years.”
Director Ron Howard, Arrested Development’s narrator and producer, described Walter as “a brilliant, funny, intelligent and strong woman”.
“Thank you for a lifetime of laughs and for sharing your incredible talent on our show and with the world,” the film-maker continued.
What a brilliant, funny, intelligent and strong woman. RIP Jessica Walter, and thank you for a lifetime of laughs and for sharing your incredible talent on our show and with the world. #jessicawalter
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) March 25, 2021
Comedian David Cross, another member of the US series’ cast, described Walter as “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,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
Happy Days actor Henry Winkler, who also appeared in Arrested Development, expressed dismay on hearing the news.
“OH NO,” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “It was an honour to watch her comedy explode from the very first row.”
‘A true original’
Others to pay tribute included actress Viola Davis, who remembered Walter as being “always consistently excellent“.
Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter, meanwhile, recalled Walter playing her antagonist in a 1977 edition of the show.
“Though we battled each other on-screen, in real life she was one of kindest, warmest, funniest women I’ve ever met,” Carter wrote.
Jessica Walter appeared in The Return of Wonder Woman in 1977. Though we battled each other on-screen, in real life she was one of kindest, warmest, funniest women I’ve ever met. Jessica, I will always remember your sage advice on and off the set fondly. We will all miss you. pic.twitter.com/Uxdaw6v1Ft
— Lynda Carter (@RealLyndaCarter) March 26, 2021
Bridesmaids director Paul Feig also paid tribute to an actress he said he had “had the honour of working with several times”,
She was, he wrote, “so funny” and “a true original” who had “marched to the tune of her own drummer”.