Hollywood lost one of the most versatile actresses in Jessica Walter, who passed at the age of 80. The two-time Golden Globe nominee had a career across film and television spanning six decades. With over 160 titles to her credit, the actor's early claim to fame came from her films like Grand Prix (1966) and Play Misty for Me (1971). Eagle-eyed Marvel buffs remember her as Morgan LeFay in the 1978 TV movie Dr. Strange. More recently, Walter gained a new generation of fans with her turn as Lucille, the matriarch of the Bluth family in the Fox/Netflix sitcom Arrested Development, and as the voice of Malory, the head of the spy agency in the FX animated series Archer.
Tributes from all over the industry poured in for the actress. Arrested Development star Jason Bateman, who plays the main character and one of Lucille's sons 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." Will Arnet, who plays son, Gob Bluth, wrote, "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." Ron Howard, who was the narrator, wrote, "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".
Tony Hale, who played momma's boy Buster Bluth wrote, "She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched. Rest In Peace Mama Bluth." David Cross, who played Lucile's son-in-law Tobias Funke, wrote, "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." Henry Wrinkler, who played Bluth family lawyer Barry Zuckercorn wrote, "OH NO …We worked together for years on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT ..It was an honor to watch her comedy explode from the very first row. Alia Shawkat, who plays Lucille's niece Maeby Funke, wrote, "love you Gangie #jessicawalters". The series Twitter account wrote, "For the loveliest girl in the world: Mother".
Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz released a statement to Variety. "I'm stunned and so very sad to hear this news. Jessica was one of the sharpest, funniest people I've ever worked with — and I've been incredibly fortunate in working with some true greats. She was, to me, the best kind of comic actor — one who's fearless in her willingness to draw upon the, shall we say, less desirable aspects of our character that, well … make us funny. She effortlessly sunk her teeth into depicting a type of mother that, given how people related to her, must be more common than is usually celebrated. Her Lucille Bluth must somehow lurk in even the most loving moms. I remember once, in front of her own daughter, she said to me, 'I love playing Lucille — she reminds of my mother.' And, I could be wrong, but I thought I detected a look on her daughter's face that said, 'YOUR mother?' Because Lucille was kind of everyone's mother at their worst. And she somehow made that all really lovable. I really loved her — she was so special. I'm so saddened by this news."
A statement released by producing studio 20th Television read, "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. 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."
Walter's Archer co-star H Jon Benjamin, who plays Sterling wrote, "Jessica Walter was an unparalleled talent. So funny. So insanely good in everything she was in. Wonderful to be around. I will miss her." Amber Nash, who plays Pam wrote on her Instagram, "This picture says it all. I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with and know Jessica. She was the best of us. 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." Aisha Tyler, who plays Lana tweeted, "Jessica Walter was a queen in every way: kind, classy, incredibly talented, generous with love & support. And so insanely funny. She was the brilliant center of our @archerfxx universe. Sweet flight to you, dear Jessica. You were so loved, and we were so lucky to know you. 💔"
Archer creator Adam Reed wrote, "The Archer family is heartbroken to lose Jessica Walter, our beloved colleague and friend. Jessica was a consummate professional, an actor's actor, and the exact opposite of Malory Archer – warm, caring, and kind, with an absolutely cracking sense of humor – and it was both a privilege and a true honor to work with her over these many years. She will be greatly missed, but never forgotten." A statement from FX Networks read, "We are utterly heartbroken to learn of the passing of Jessica Walter. She was a comedic genius and a brilliant actor who personified wit, grace and elegance. Jessica's "Malory Archer" served as the bedrock character for the series and we were always honored to have her as member of our FX family. Words cannot describe the monumental loss we and the Archer producers and cast feel. We extend our love, appreciation, and condolences to Jessica's family."
More from across the industry paid their respects like Edgar Wright, Viola Davis, Patton Oswalt, Dylan Gelula, Paul Feig, Geena Davis, Elaine Hendrix, and more.
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