‘Arrested Development’ and Hollywood stars pay tribute to Jessica Walter: “Rest in peace Mama Bluth”

The actress died in her sleep in her New York City home

Tributes have been paid to Arrested Development and Archer star Jessica Walter after she died in her sleep in her New York City home.

The 80-year-old’s career spanned six decades including everything from a standout turn as the unhinged Evelyn in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, Play Misty For Me, to The Flamingo Kid and her Emmy-nominated turns on Trapper John M..D. and Streets Of San Francisco.

But she was best known more recently for her role as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, for which she earned an Emmy nomination (Outstanding Supporting Actress) and two SAG nominations.

With husband Ron Leibman, Walter also did lead voice work for the FX animated espionage comedy Archer, voicing Malory Archer from 2009-15.

The actress also served as National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild, and was an elected member of the SAG Board of Directors for over a decade.

Walter is survived by her daughter Brooke Bowman, who is SVP Drama Programming at Fox Entertainment, and grandson Micah Heymann.

Bowman said in a statement via Deadline: “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. 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.”

Her Arrested Development co-star, Tony Hale who played Buster Bluth, was one of the first to pay tribute to the late actress.

“She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched. Rest In Peace Mama Bluth,” he wrote.

Jason Bateman, who played Michael Bluth, wrote: “R. I. P. Jessica Walter. What an incredible career, filled with amazing performances. I will forever remember my time with her, watching her bring Lucille Bluth to life. She was one of a kind. All my love and thoughts to her family.”

David Cross, who played Tobias Fünke in the sitcom, also paid his respects upon hearing the news of her death.

“I just heard the shitty news about Jessica Walter 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.

Will Arnett, who played George Oscar Bluth II, later paid his respects. “Jessica Walter was a deeply talented person. We first met on a pilot in ‘96 and I was instantly blown away. I’m fortunate to have had a front row seat to her brilliance for 25 years. My thoughts are with her daughter Brooke and grandson Micah today. Farewell Jessica, you’ll be missed,” he wrote.

Co-star Henry Winkler, who played Barry Zuckerkorn, in the series added: “OH NO …We worked together for years on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT ..It was an honour to watch her comedy explode from the very first row.”

The studio behind Arrested Development, 20th Television, later released a statement following Walter’s passing.

“Jessica Walter’s spectacular turn as the devilish Lucille Bluth is one of the great comedic performances of television history, and we loved working with her as much as audiences loved her on Arrested Development,” it said before adding: “Our hearts go out to her family and friends, particularly her daughter, and our former colleague, Brooke. We know that heaven just got a whole lot funnier with Jessica now in residence.”

“I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with and know Jessica. She was the best of us,” said Archer‘s Amber Nash on Instagram. “She would wait for a moment and then blow us all out of the water with the funniest thing you’ve ever heard. I learned so much from Jessica. A classy gal indeed.”

Meanwhile, Archer creator Adam Reed described Walter as “the exact opposite of Malory Archer – warm, caring, and kind, with an absolutely cracking sense of humour”.

She will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Posted by Archer on Thursday, March 25, 2021

Oscar winning actress Viola Davis expressed her sadness, adding: “Oh man!! I loved you Jessica Walter. I grew up watching you AND admiring you. Always consistently excellent. Rest well.”

Netflix also paid their respects, adding: “Her voice was unmistakable. Her talent was undeniable. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us Jessica Walter. Rest in peace, legend.”

Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright also paid tribute to the actress. “I loved Jessica Walter. For me, knowing her mostly from dramatic work in films like ‘Play Misty For Me’ just made the comic genius of her turn in ‘Arrested Development’ even more delightful. You can watch her reactions shots on a loop. Lucille Bluth Forever,” he wrote.

Filmmaker Ron Howard called Walter “brilliant, funny, intelligent and strong” and wrote: “Thank you for a lifetime of laughs and for sharing your incredible talent on our show and with the world.”

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