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."
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.
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) March 25, 2021
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
— Will Arnett™ (@arnettwill) March 25, 2021
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
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) March 25, 2021
She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched. Rest In Peace Mama Bluth. pic.twitter.com/wJeOeJleR3
— Tony Hale (@MrTonyHale) March 25, 2021
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
— david cross✍ (@davidcrosss) March 25, 2021
OH NO …We worked together for years on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT ..It was an honor to watch her comedy explode from the very first row . https://t.co/edVRAPsKRk
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) March 25, 2021
For the loveliest girl in the world: Mother pic.twitter.com/TpREAVoRcR
— Arrested Development (@arresteddev) March 25, 2021
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."
Jessica Walter was an unparalleled talent. So funny. So insanely good in everything she was in. Wonderful to be around. I will miss her.
— h. jon benjamin (@HJBenjamin) March 25, 2021
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. 💔 pic.twitter.com/0fsXh6CwbS
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) March 25, 2021
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.
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. pic.twitter.com/hwBLDyJBET
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 25, 2021
Oh man!! I loved you Jessica Walter. I grew up watching you AND admiring you. Always consistently excellent. Rest well 💛 https://t.co/40d22s6pA1
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) March 25, 2021
Oh GODDAMIT. She was such an absolute sweetie. RIP queen https://t.co/1XG7kq5eSj
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 25, 2021
jessica played my grandmother on one of my 1st jobs in 2014. i got to meet one of the sharpest funniest hardest working actors ill ever know right out of the gate. once she turned to me and said "dont let them fuck with you". im still not positive what she meant but she was right pic.twitter.com/bxsiYVlmfH
— dylan gelula (@DylanGelula) March 25, 2021
This is so incredibly sad. I loved Jessica so much. She was so funny and marched to the tune of her own drummer. A true original whom I had the honor of working with several times. So much love to you, Jessica. Rest In Peace. ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/Sm0tqvE4Os
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) March 25, 2021
A brilliant talent and comedic genius. Our heart go out to her family, loved ones, and many fans. ❤️ https://t.co/IMDkfpAbet
— GeenaDavisInstitute (@GDIGM) March 25, 2021
Jessica Walter. FUCK! I just emailed you this morning. I love you. I miss you. You were a highlight in my career, my life. I am so grateful to have treaded boards, and the earth, with you. That voice. That laugh. Those looks. You will be missed. 😔🙏🏼💔 #JessicaWalter pic.twitter.com/uGnTt6Gs9r
— Elaine Hendrix (@elaine4animals) March 25, 2021
Remembering the amazing career of Jessica Walter today, including her iconic voice performance as Fran Sinclair on Dinosaurs. pic.twitter.com/YrSlM24f3w
— The Jim Henson Company (@hensoncompany) March 25, 2021
— SAG Awards® (@SAGawards) March 25, 2021
Her voice was unmistakable. Her talent was undeniable.
Thank you for sharing your gifts with us Jessica Walter. Rest in peace, legend. pic.twitter.com/cleCoiXCCL
— Netflix (@netflix) March 25, 2021
Jessica Walter is a comedy legend whose work will continue to make us laugh for a long time. pic.twitter.com/9wkOM4lb3W
— comedycentral (@ComedyCentral) March 25, 2021
We're saddened to hear about the passing of the brilliant award-winning actress, Jessica Walter.
She joined us as a Guest Programmer back in 2005 where she charmed us with her wit and insights. Here she discusses one of her favorite films, THE WAY WE WERE ('73). pic.twitter.com/WEldXuS4sL
— TCM (@tcm) March 25, 2021