Broadway Alum and Emmy Winner Jessica Walter Dies at 80

Obituaries   Broadway Alum and Emmy Winner Jessica Walter Dies at 80
 
The star appeared in shows like Anything Goes and Rumors.
Jessica Walter Obit Graphic_HR

Jessica Walter, the Emmy-winning performer who made several Broadway appearances throughout her career, died March 24 at the age of 80. Her daughter, Brooke Bowman, confirmed the news to Deadline.

Ms. Walter had reached the zenith of pop culture in the past two decades as the sharp-tongued and boozy Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, for which she earned an Primetime Emmy nomination in 2005. She voiced a similarly quippy character in the FX animated series Archer, this time as the head of a spy agency and the mother to the title character.

Jessica Walter and Dennis King<i> </i>in<i> Photo Finish</i>
Jessica Walter and Dennis King in Photo Finish Friedman-Abeles/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

The star made her Broadway debut in the early ‘60s as a replacement in Loring Mandel’s adaptation of Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent. In 1962, she appeared in Sidney S. Kingsley’s Night Life. Shortly after, she appeared in A Severed Head and Photo Finish, the latter earning her Most Promising Newcomer at the Clarence Derwent Awards. To close out the decade, she played Lois Lane/Bianca opposite Robert Goulet, Carol Lawrence, and Michael Callan in the 1968 TV movie musical presentation of Kiss Me, Kate.

The star made two more appearances on the Main Stem following her string of shows in the ‘60s: the 1988 Neil Simon comedy Rumors and the 2011 revival of Anything Goes. Beyond Broadway, the star appeared Off-Broadway with companies like Playwright’s Horizons, and in Los Angeles, where she played Elmire in Tartuffe opposite the late Ron Leibman, her Emmy and Tony–winning husband.

Born January 31, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Walter graduated from New York City's High School of Performing Arts. While her stage career was her start, she found fame on screen after starring in a number of TV shows and films during the ‘70s, including Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, Play Misty for Me. She won an Emmy in 1975 for her work in Amy Prentiss and followed it up with nods for Trapper John M..D. and Streets of San Francisco.

She married Mr. Leibman in 1983 following her first marriage to Ross Bowman, with whom she had a daughter, Brooke.

Ms. Walter is survived by daughter Brooke Bowman, who is SVP Drama Programming at Fox Entertainment, and grandson Micah Heymann. “Her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off,” said Bowman. “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.”