Jessica Walter
Walter at the 2019 WonderCon
Born(1941-01-31)January 31, 1941
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 24, 2021(2021-03-24) (aged 80)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materNeighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre
Years active1960–2021
Ross Bowman
(m. 1966; div. 1978)
(m. 1983; died 2019)
RelativesRichard Walter (brother)
AwardsSee below

Jessica Ann Walter (January 31, 1941 – March 24, 2021) was an American actress who appeared in over 170 films, stage and television productions. In films, she was best known for her role as a psychotic and obsessed fan of a local disc jockey in the 1971 Clint Eastwood thriller, Play Misty for Me. On television, she was most recently known for her role of Lucille Bluth on the sitcom Arrested Development (2003–06, 2013–19), and providing the voice of Malory Archer on the FX animated series Archer (2009–21). Walter received various awards over the course of her television career including a Primetime Emmy Award for Amy Prentiss (1975). She also received two Golden Globe Award nominations and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.[1] For her starring role opposite Eastwood in Play Misty for Me, Walter received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.

After studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City, Walter began her career on the Broadway stage, winning a 1963 Clarence Derwent Award for Outstanding Debut Performance. She made her film debut in the 1964 neo-noir drama Lilith then subsequently starred in the 1966 films Grand Prix and The Group. Both performances earned her critical acclaim.

Throughout her career, Walter was a regular presence on American television, playing the title role in the short-lived police procedural Amy Prentiss, appearing in a recurring role on Trapper John, M.D., working as a series regular for the first half of season one of 90210, and providing the voice of Fran Sinclair on the series Dinosaurs. Her role as scheming socialite Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development brought her renewed attention, and she contributed voiceover work to animated shows like Archer and Star vs. the Forces of Evil (2015–18).

Early life

Walter was born on January 31, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York,[2][3] to Esther (née Groisser), a teacher,[4] and David Walter, a musician who was a member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the NYC Ballet Orchestra.[5][6][7] Both her parents were Jewish.[8] Walter's mother migrated to the US from Russia in 1923.[4][9] Her brother, Richard, is a retired professor who led the screenwriting program at UCLA.[10] The siblings were raised in Elmhurst, Queens.[11] Walter attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, graduating in 1959.[12][13]


Walter in 1965

Walter began her acting career on stage, winning a Clarence Derwent Award in 1963 for Outstanding Debut Broadway Performance in Photo Finish by Peter Ustinov. She soon moved to television, and played Julie Muranoon on the television series, Love of Life.[14] While appearing on Love of Life from 1962 to 1965, she also acted on many other popular television series, including Naked City, East Side/West Side, Ben Casey, Route 66, The Doctors and the Nurses, The Rogues, and The Defenders. Among those series is Walter's role as Lorna Richmond on "The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow" episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (April 14, 1964), and a supporting role as William Shatner's wife on the legal drama For the People (1965).

In 1964, Walter appeared in the first episode of the television series, Flipper as well as the episode "How Much for a Prince?" in CBS's drama The Reporter. In 1966, she appeared in "The White Knight" episode of The Fugitive.[15]

Her earliest notable and acclaimed screen role was in the Clint Eastwood-directed film, Play Misty for Me (1971). Walter played Evelyn, a young woman who becomes violently obsessed with a disc jockey. Evelyn is known to repeatedly call a California radio station during a jazz music program hosted by Eastwood's character, Dave Garver, always requesting he play the Erroll Garner standard, "Misty". In the course of becoming infatuated with Garver, Evelyn seduces him and then attempts suicide in his home. Her obsessive behavior intensifies and she begins stalking him relentlessly and eventually breaks into his house. In a frenzy, Evelyn destroys the interior of the home and stabs his housekeeper Birdie (played by Clarice Taylor), who is hospitalized but survives. For her performance, Walter received a Golden Globe Award nomination in the Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama category [10][16] as well as critical praise. Film critic Roger Ebert described Walter as demonstrating "unnerving effectiveness" in the role.[17]

Walter's other film credits from that era include Lilith (1964), Grand Prix (1966), The Group (1966), Bye Bye Braverman (1968), and Number One (1969). She was also in three episodes of Mannix (starring Mike Connors) in three separate seasons.

During the 1970s, Walter co-starred in an episode of Columbo, "Mind Over Mayhem", had a recurring role on Trapper John, M.D. as Melanie McIntyre, Trapper John's former wife, and starred on the series Amy Prentiss, a spinoff of Ironside, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award.

In 1980s, she had a role on the NBC primetime soap opera Bare Essence as Ava Marshall. Following Bare Essence, Walter worked most frequently in television and theater, though she did appear in some films including The Flamingo Kid (1984) and PCU (1994). She recorded a performance as the doll form of Chucky for the 1988 horror film Child's Play, but her lines were redubbed by Brad Dourif after negative test screenings which Tom Holland and Don Mancini attributed partially to Walter's performance; they claimed Walter was effectively frightening in the role but failed to convey the sense of black humor they envisioned the character to have and that her voice seemed out of place because the character was male.[18][19]

In the 1990s, Walter voiced Fran Sinclair on the ABC comedy Dinosaurs, and appeared on Just Shoot Me! as Eve Gallo, the mother of Maya and the ex-wife of magazine publisher Jack Gallo.

Walter in 2008

From 2003 to 2006, she appeared in a regular role as the scheming alcoholic socialite matriarch Lucille Bluth on Fox's comedy series Arrested Development. In 2005, she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series for the role. Despite her convincing portrayal of Lucille, she stated: "I'm nothing like Lucille. Nothing. My daughter will tell you. I'm really a very nice, boring person."[20] Despite acclaim from critics, Arrested Development received low ratings and viewership on Fox, which cancelled the series in 2006. It was revived by Netflix for season four in 2013, where it gained huge popularity. Walter reprised her role for season five, premiering in 2018.[21]

Walter played Tabitha Wilson on the first season of 90210 (2008-2009), until the character was written off halfway through the season. In 2007, she guest-starred on the sitcom Rules of Engagement in the episode titled "Kids" and in 2009 guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order: SVU as legal-aid lawyer Petra Gilmartin. Previously in 2008, she had appeared in Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Eleanor Reynolds in the episode "Please Note We Are No Longer Accepting Letters of Recommendation from Henry Kissinger".[22] From 2011 to 2012, she starred in the TV Land sitcom Retired at 35 alongside her Bye Bye Braverman co-star George Segal.[23]

Walter with Arrested Development co-star Jason Bateman during a reunion in 2011

Walter starred as Evangeline Harcourt in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which began previews in March 2011 and officially opened on April 7, 2011.[24]

Walter voiced spymaster Malory Archer on the FX animated series Archer. [10] Walter mentioned that her performance in Arrested Development was explicitly referenced when auditions for the part of Malory were sought.[25]

In May 2018, Walter became part of an on-set controversy regarding harassment she said she had received from Arrested Development co-star Jeffrey Tambor. During a cast interview with the New York Times, Walter was asked about an incident which Tambor had alluded to several months before.[26] Walter teared up and stated that "[i]n like almost 60 years of working, I've never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it's hard to deal with, but I'm over it now", while also noting that Tambor had apologized and had not done anything sexually inappropriate, and that she would work with him again.[26][27][28][a] During the same interview, co-stars Jason Bateman, Tony Hale, and David Cross were criticized in multiple media outlets for appearing to excuse Tambor's behavior without acknowledging Walter's experience.[29][30] Within days, all three men had issued apologies to Walter.[31]

Personal life

Walter and her first husband on their wedding day

On March 27, 1966, Walter married Ross Bowman, a Broadway stage manager and television director from Portland, Oregon.[32] The marriage produced a daughter, Brooke (born May 18, 1972), formerly an executive for 21st Century Fox and currently a Senior Vice President of development at ABC Family.[33] Walter filed for divorce from Bowman in November 1976, and the divorce became final in 1978.[34][35] Their grandson Micah was born on July 7, 2013 to Brooke and her husband, David Heymann.[36]

During her first marriage, a fire broke out in the couple's tenth-floor apartment on September 28, 1966 while Bowman was out of town. Walter was rescued by a firefighter.[37]

On June 26, 1983, Walter married actor Ron Leibman.[35] They remained married until his death on December 6, 2019.[38] Walter and Leibman appeared together in Neil Simon's play Rumors, and portrayed a husband and wife in the film Dummy (2003), and on Law & Order (in the episode "House Counsel"). Leibman joined the cast of Archer, voicing her character's new husband.

While Walter's mother raised her in the Jewish tradition, Walter later described herself as not religious but "very Jewish in my heart".[39]


On March 24, 2021, Walter died in her sleep at her Manhattan home. She was 80 years old.[40][41][42]



Year Title Roles Notes Rf.
1964 Lilith Laura [43]
1966 Grand Prix Pat Stoddard Nominated — Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress [10][16]
The Group Libby [10]
1968 Bye Bye Braverman Inez Braverman [44]
1969 Number One Julie Catlan [44]
1971 Play Misty for Me Evelyn Draper Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama [10][16]
1979 Goldengirl Melody [45]
1981 Going Ape! Fiona Sabatini [44]
1982 Spring Fever Celia Berryman [44]
1984 The Flamingo Kid Phyllis Brody [46]
1988 Tapeheads Kay Mart [44]
1993 Ghost in the Machine Elaine Spencer [44]
1994 PCU President Garcia-Thompson [47]
1995 Temptress Dr. Phyllis Evergreen [47]
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Doris Zimmerman [46]
2003 Dummy Fern [44][46]
2006 Unaccompanied Minors Cindi [46]
2012 Bending the Rules Lena Gold [48]
2017 Undercover Grandpa Maddy Harcourt [49]
Keep the Change Carrie [46][50]
2020 The Mimic Estelle [51]


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Diagnosis: Unknown Episode: "The Curse of the Gypsy"
1962–65 Love of Life Julie Murano
1962–63 Naked City Girl / Louise 2 episodes
1963 Route 66 Liz Marshall Episode: "A Long Way from St. Louie"
1964 East Side/West Side Phyllis Dowling Episode: "Take Sides with the Sun"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Lorna Richmond Episode: "The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow"
Ben Casey Flora Farr Episode: "August Is the Month Before Christmas"
Flipper Elena Episode: "300 Feet Below"
The Doctors and the Nurses Edith Robertson 2 episodes
The Reporter Jennifer Episode: "How Much for a Prince?"
The Rogues Linda Tennant Episode: "House of Cards"
1964–65 The Defenders Sharon Ruskin / Myra Maxwell 2 episodes
1965 For the People Phyllis Koster 13 episodes
The Trials of O'Brien Carole Ann Muffit Episode: "Picture Me a Murder"
1966 The Fugitive Pat Haynes Episode: "The White Knight"
Preview Tonight Vivian Scott Episode: "Pursue and Destroy"
1966–73 The F.B.I. Various 6 episodes
1968 Kiss Me, Kate Lois Lane / Bianca Television film
1968–71 The Name of the Game Linda Ramsey / Rita Mason / Allie Chambers 2 episodes
1969 It Takes a Thief Lori Brooks Episode: "The Baranoff Timetable"
The Immortal Janet Braddock Pilot for TV series
Then Came Bronson Morgana Mendoza Episode: "Where Will the Trumpets Be?"
Three's a Crowd Jessica Carson Television film
1969–73 Love, American Style Various 5 episodes
1970 Mission: Impossible Valerie Episode: "Orpheus"
The Most Deadly Game Leslie Episode: "Breakdown"
1970–73 Mannix Various 3 episodes
1971 Men at Law Kate Callendar Episode: "Let the Dier Beware"
Alias Smith and Jones Louise Carson Episode: "Everything Else You Can Steal"
They Call It Murder Jane Antrim Television film
1971–73 Marcus Welby, M.D. Marian Lawrence / Jenny Alquist 2 episodes
1971–74 Medical Center Various 4 episodes
1972 The Sixth Sense Jordana Theland Episode: "The Heart That Wouldn't Stay Buried"
Women in Chains Dee Dee Television film
Banyon Emily Episode: "The Old College Try"
Cannon Jane Butler Episode: "That Was No Lady"
Home for the Holidays Frederica "Freddie" Morgan Television film
1973 Banacek Erica Osburn Episode: "The Two Million Clams of Cap'n Jack"
Jigsaw Episode: "Kiss the Dream Goodbye"
Tenafly Joyce Harrison Episode: "The Cash and Carry Caper"
1973–76 The Streets of San Francisco Glen Williams / Glen Conway / Maggie Jarris 2 episodes
1974 Barnaby Jones Brooke Leighton / Bernice Kellner 2 episodes
Columbo Dr. Margaret Nicholson Episode: "Mind Over Mayhem"
The Magician Marian Tripp Episode: "The Illusion Of The Evil Spikes"
Ironside Amy Prentiss Episode: "Amy Prentiss AKA The Chief"
Pilot for Amy Prentiss
Hurricane Louise Damon Television film
Hawaii Five-O Carla Crystal Episode: "The Two Faced Corpse"
1974–75 Amy Prentiss Amy Prentiss 3 episodes
1975 McCloud Mrs. Jessica Wright Episode: "Park Avenue Pirates"
1976 Having Babies Sally McNamara Television film
McMillan Donna Drake Episode: "All Bets Off"
Victory at Entebbe Nomi Haroun Television film
1977 Visions Anna II Episode: "The Prison Game"
All That Glitters Joan Hamlyn
The New Adventures of Wonder Woman Gloria Episode: "The Return of Wonder Woman"
Black Market Baby Louise Carmino Television film
What Really Happened to the Class of '65? Fran Episode: "The Girl Nobody Knew"
Gibbsville Episode: "The Grand Gesture"
1978 Wild and Wooly Megan Television film
Wheels Ursula TV miniseries, Episode #1.1
Dr. Strange Morgan le Fay Television film
Secrets of Three Hungry Wives Christina Wood
Quincy, M.E. Jessica Ross Episode: "Images"
1978–85 The Love Boat Various 8 episodes
1979 Vampire Nicole DeCamp Television film
She's Dressed to Kill Irene Barton
1979–85 Trapper John, M.D. Melanie Townsend McIntyre 10 episodes
1981 Miracle on Ice Pat Brooks Television film
Aloha Paradise Episode: "The Best of Friends/Success/9 Carats"
Scruples Maggie Television film
1982 Knots Landing Victoria Hill Episode: "Reunion"
Joanie Loves Chachi Vanessa Sterling Episode: "Everybody Loves Aunt Vanessa"
Matt Houston Glynnis Durand Episode: "Joey's Here"
Bare Essence Ava Marshall TV miniseries, 11 episodes
1983 Thursday's Child Roz Richardson Television film
1984 The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D. Astrid Carlisle
1984–85 Three's a Crowd Claudia Bradford 8 episodes
1985 The Execution Gertrude Simon Television film
1985–94 Murder, She Wrote Various 4 episodes
1986 Hotel Irene Fitzgerald Episode: "Child's Play"
Magnum, P.I. Joan Fulton Episode: "Novel Connection"
Wildfire Lady Diabolyn (voice) Main role
1987 ABC Afterschool Specials Dr. Stein Episode: "Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story"
1988 J.J. Starbuck Brin Coltan Episode: "Murder by Design"
Aaron's Way Connie Lo Verde 14 episodes
1991 The Pirates of Dark Water Additional voices 2 episodes
1991–94 Dinosaurs Fran Sinclair (voice) 65 episodes
1992 Jack's Place Claire Episode: "Romance Takes a Curtain Call"
The Round Table Anne McPherson Episode: "Yesterday We Were Playing Football"
1994 Babylon 5 Senator Elise Voudreau Episode: "A Spider in the Web"
Coach Susan Miller 5 episodes
1995 Law & Order Anna Kopell Episode: "House Counsel"
1996 Wing Commander Academy Admiral Rhea Bergstrom (voice) Episode: "Chain of Command"
The Magic School Bus Ashley Walker-Club-Dupree (voice) Episode: "Rocks and Rolls"
1996–97 One Life to Live Eleanor Armitage 6 episodes
1997 Doomsday Rock Secretary Television movie
You Wish Estelle Episode: "The Big Ride"
1998 Poltergeist: The Legacy Suzanne Barnard Episode: "The Light"
Just Shoot Me! Eve Gallo Episode: "Eve of Destruction"
1998–2000 Oh Baby Celia Calloway 20 episodes
2000–01 Jack & Jill Mrs. Louise Zane 3 episodes
2003 Touched by an Angel Naomi Episode: "The Show Must Not Go On"
Arrested Development Lucille Bluth 82 episodes
2004 I Do (But I Don't) Gennifer Douglas Television movie
2006–07 The Life and Times of Juniper Lee Demoness (voice) 2 episodes
2007 The Land Before Time Old One (voice) Episode: "The Brave Longneck Scheme"
Rules of Engagement Constance Episode: "Kids"
The Wedding Bells Candace Sinclair Episode: "Partly Cloudy, with a Chance of Disaster"
2007–10 Saving Grace Betty Hanadarko 5 episodes
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Eleanor Reynolds Episode: "Please Note We Are No Longer Accepting
Letters of Recommendation from Henry Kissinger"
Happy Hour Nanette Episode: "Thanksgiving"
2008–09 90210 Tabitha Wilson 13 episodes
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Attorney Petra Gilmartin Episode: "Solitary"
2009–21 Archer Malory Archer (voice) 110 episodes 12th season posthumous release
2017–19 "Mother" (voice) main season 8, 10; guest season 9
2010 Gravity Henrietta 5 episodes
Make It or Break It Grandma Tanner Episode: "Battle of the Flexes"
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Mrs. Wyatt (voice) Episode: "Howl Of The Fright Hound"
2011 The Big Bang Theory Mrs. Latham Episode: "The Benefactor Factor"[52]
2011–12 Retired at 35 Elaine Robbins Main cast, 20 episodes
2014 Jennifer Falls Maggie Main cast, 10 episodes
2015–18 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Miss Heinous / Meteora Butterfly (voice) 9 episodes
2015, 2017 NCIS Judith McKnight Episodes: "16 Years"; "Nonstop"
2016 Turbo: F.A.S.T. Tabitha (voice) Episode: "Worst in Show/Belle of the Gumball"
The Odd Couple Meredith Episode: "Felix Navidad"
2017 Justice League Action Athena (voice) Episode: "The Trouble with Truth"
Difficult People Mrs. Chuck Episode: "Criminal Minds"
2019 At Home with Amy Sedaris Alice Brittlecrunch 2 episodes
2019–20 Good Girls Judith 2 episodes
2020 Harley Quinn Wendy Brown, Granny Goodness (voices) Episode: "Inner (Para) Demons"
2021 American Housewife Margaret Episode: "Getting Frank with the Ottos"; final television role


Year Title Roles Venue
1958 Middle Of The Night Kid Sister Bucks County Playhouse
1960 Come Blow Your Horn Nurse Bucks County Playhouse
1960 Advise and Consent Liz Cort Theatre
1962 Night Life Cigarette Girl Brooks Atkinson Theatre
1963 Photo Finish Clarice, Ada Cooney Brooks Atkinson Theatre
1964 A Severed Head Georgie Hands Royale Theatre
1967 Barefoot in the Park Corie Bratter Kenley Players
1967 Gypsy Gypsy Rose Lee The Muny
1969 How Now, Dow Jones Cynthia Pike Kenley Players
1970 Oliver! Nancy Sacramento Light Opera
1970 The Women Sylvia Fowler Repertory Theatre of New Orleans
1977 The Royal Family Cavendish Parker Playhouse
1985 Fighting International Fat Rosalind Gambol Playwrights Horizons
1986 Tartuffe Elmire Los Angeles Theatre Center
1988 Rumors Claire Ganz Broadhurst Theatre
1990 Rumors Claire Ganz Doolittle Theatre, Los Angeles
2001 The Vagina Monologues Performer Westside Theatre
2001 A Connecticut Yankee Guinevere Encores!
2002 Going Native Mother Long Wharf Theatre
2003 The Stillborn Lover Juliet Riordan Berkshire Theater Festival
2005 Side By Side by Sondheim Narrator Berkshire Theater Festival
2011 Anything Goes Evangeline Harcourt Stephen Sondheim Theatre
2016 Steel Magnolias Ouiser Boudreaux Bucks County Playhouse
2018 Show Boat in Concert Parthy Ann Hawks Bucks County Playhouse

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Project Result Ref.
1966 Golden Globe Awards Most Promising Newcomer – Female Grand Prix Nominated [16]
1971 Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Play Misty for Me Nominated
1975 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Amy Prentiss Won [53]
1977 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series[b] The Streets of San Francisco Nominated
1980 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Trapper John, M.D. Nominated
2005 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Arrested Development Nominated
2021 Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance Archer Nominated[c]
2022 Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance Nominated[d]
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Arrested Development Nominated [54][55]
2005 Nominated [54][56]
2013 Nominated [54][57]


  1. ^ The two did not work together again before her death.[27]
  2. ^ Named "Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series" at the time.[53]
  3. ^ Posthumous nomination
  4. ^ Posthumous nomination


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