Thursday, March 25, 2021

Jessica Walter Makes Her Exit

This sad news comes from The Hollywood Reporter:
Jessica Walter, the sassy actress who excelled at portraying unhinged types, from the obsessed fan of a radio deejay in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me to nutty matriarchs on Arrested Development and Archer, has died. She was 80.

Walter died Wednesday night at home in New York, her daughter, Fox Entertainment executive Brooke Bowman, said.

“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom, Jessica,” she said. “A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off. 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.”
Rolling Stone magazine adds that “Walter began her career as a stage actor in her hometown of New York City, working at the famed Playwright’s Horizons and landing roles in Broadway productions such as Advise and Consent, Neil Simon’s Rumors, A Severed Head, Nightlife, and Photo Finish, for which she earned the Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Outside of New York, she starred in Tartuffe opposite her husband, the late Emmy- and Tony-winning actor Ron Liebman, at the Los Angeles Theater Center. More recently, she was cast in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which won several Tony Awards.”

Walter racked up a lengthy collection of film and TV credits, dating back to the 1950s. She appeared in her youth on such dramas as Naked City, East Side/West Side, The Defenders, and The Fugitive. She went on to capture parts in movies such as The Group, Grand Prix, and the aforementioned Play Misty for Me, and in small-screen series ranging from It Takes a Thief, Banyon, and Banacek to Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco, and Murder, She Wrote. In 1975, Walter won an Emmy Award for Amy Prentiss, an Ironside spin-off and short-lived NBC Mystery Movie series, on which she played the San Francisco Police Department’s first woman chief of detectives. She was later nominated three times for her portrayal of manipulative and quotable Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. Walter also provided the voice of spymaster Malory Archer on the FXX-TV animated show Archer.

She passed away just over two years after Liebman, her second husband—to whom she’d been married for 36 years—died at age 82.

(Hat tip to The Spy Command.)

READ MORE:Jessica Walter and George Segal Personified a Time When Movies Grew Up,” by Ann Hornaday (The Washington Post).

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