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Arrested Development star Jessica Walter dies aged 80

Jessica Walter (Francis Specker/PA)
Jessica Walter (Francis Specker/PA)

Emmy Award-winning actress Jessica Walter, known for roles in Arrested Development and Archer, has died aged 80.

Her daughter Brooke Bowman confirmed the news in a statement that praised her long career on the stage and screen.

She said: “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.

56th Annual Emmy Awards 2004
Jessica Walter (Francis Specker/PA)

“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 her on-screen son Buster, was among those paying tribute.

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

The show’s producer John Levenstein said: “Jessica Walter never missed. If she didn’t get a laugh there was a problem with the script.”

Walter was best known for her role as Lucille Bluth in the sitcom Arrested Development, about a once-wealthy, dysfunctional family who have fallen on hard times.

However, her career extended back to New York where she attended High School of Performing Arts before landing her first theatre roles and winning a Clarence Derwent Award in 1963 for her Broadway performance in Photo Finish by Peter Ustinov.

Her major breakthrough film role came in 1971 with Play Misty For Me, in which she played an erratic young woman who becomes obsessed with, and begins stalking, a disc jockey.

She received a Golden Globe nomination and widespread critical praise.

Previously, she starred in the noir thriller Lilith in 1964, John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix in 1966 and Bye Bye Braverman in 1968.

In 2003 she debuted as the scheming matriarch of the Bluth family in Arrested Development on Fox.

Following lacklustre viewing figures, the show was cancelled in 2006, but was revived by Netflix for season four in 2013, where it gained popularity.

Walter voiced tough spymaster Malory Archer on the FX animated series Archer.

According to Deadline, Walter’s family have asked that donations be made to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in lieu of flowers.

The actress also served as 2nd National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild and was an elected member of the SAG Board of Directors for more than a decade.

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