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Jessica Walter (1941–2021), star of “Arrested Development,” “Archer”

by Linnea Crowther

Jessica Walter was an Emmy-winning actress who was best known for playing Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” and voicing Malory Archer in “Archer.”

Acting career

Among Walter’s most memorable early roles was Evelyn Draper in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film “Play Misty for Me.” Her performance as an obsessed fan of a disc jockey earned her a Golden Globe nomination. On TV, Walter had a memorable recurring role on “Trapper John, M.D.,” and she won a Primetime Emmy Award for her performance in the limited series “Amy Prentiss.” She took one of her most recognizable roles in 2003, playing the acidic matriarch Lucille Bluth on Fox’s “Arrested Development,” and she continued with the show when it was picked up by Netflix in later years. Her voice role on “Archer” offered a similar character in the form of the leader of an intelligence agency.

Walter’s other movies include “Grand Prix” (1966), “The Flamingo Kid” (1984), “PCU” (1994), and her final film, “The Mimic” (2020). She had a starring voice role on TV’s “Dinosaurs” (1991) as well as recurring roles on “Saving Grace” (2007) and “90210” (2008). In 2011, she starred with George Segal (1934–2021) in the short-lived sitcom “Retired at 35.” Walter made dozens of TV guest appearances over six decades, on shows including “Flipper,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Knots Landing,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Law & Order,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Good Girls.”


Notable quote

“Even my leading ladies were characters. They were not Miss Vanilla Ice Cream. They weren’t holding the horse while John Wayne galloped into the sunset.” —from a 2019 interview with Elle

Tributes to Jessica Walter

Full obituary: The New York Times

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