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Jessica Walter, ‘Arrested Development’ Star, Dies at 80

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Jessica Walter, whose six-decade acting career included roles ranging from an obsessed radio fan in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, “Play Misty for Me,” to the cutting, martini-swilling matriarch of the dysfunctional Bluth family on “Arrested Development,” died at her home in New York City on Wednesday. She was 80.

Ms. Walter’s death was confirmed by her publicist, Kelli Jones, who did not specify a cause.

In a long and wide-ranging career, Ms. Walter won numerous awards, including an Emmy for “Amy Prentiss” in 1975. She received three Emmy nominations, for “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Trapper John, M.D.” and “Arrested Development.” She was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, for “Play Misty for Me” and “Grand Prix.”

Ms. Walter began her career in New York City, her hometown, and appeared in numerous Broadway productions, including “Advise and Consent,” Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” “A Severed Head,” “Night Life” and “Photo Finish.” She also starred in the Broadway revival of “Anything Goes,” which won several Tony Awards.

In recent years, she was introduced to a new generation in the role of Lucille Bluth on “Arrested Development,” the zany, self-referential sitcom about a narcissistic family that was critically adored when it debuted in 2003 but failed to build an audience over three seasons on Fox. The show was a cult favorite and Ms. Walter said she was often stopped on the subway and buses by fans who told her, “You know, you look a lot like that woman that plays Lucille Bluth.”

“I say, ‘You know, I’ve heard that,’” she told The New York Times in 2018. “You know, Lucille is in my DNA now.”

Jessica Walter was born in New York City on Jan. 31, 1941. Her father, David Walter, was a musician and a member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Her mother, Esther Groisser, was a teacher. Ms. Walter attended the High School of Performing Arts.

She was married twice, first to Ross Bowman, a Broadway stage manager, and in 1983 to the Tony-winning actor Ron Leibman, who died in 2019. Both had performed together in a 1986 production of “Tartuffe” at the Los Angeles Theater Center. More recently, they had voiced characters on the animated series “Archer.”

Ms. Walter’s survivors include her daughter, Brooke Bowman, and a grandson.

A full obituary will be published shortly.

Neil Genzlinger contributed reporting.

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