TAMPA (WFLA) – Jessica Walter, known for her roles in “Arrested Development” and “Amy Prentiss,” has died at the age of 80.
The actor died in her sleep at home in New York City on Wednesday, March 24, according to her daughter, Brooke Bowman, who is SVP Drama Programming at Fox Entertainment.
A cause of death and other details were not immediately provided.
“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica. A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off,” Bowman said in a statement.
Walter will also be well-remembered for “her wit, class and overall joie de vivre,” or life of love, her daughter added.
Walter began her career in her hometown of New York City and over the following five decades went on to make appearances on stage and screen, including in “The Flamingo Kid,” “Trapper John M.D.” and “Streets of San Francisco.” She also voiced Malory Archer on FX’s animated series “Archer.”
Walter won an Emmy for her role in “Amy Prentiss.”
Although her photogenic appearance might have qualified her for standard leading lady roles, Walter claimed no regrets about being cast as a character actor.
She loved playing difficult women because “those are the fun roles. They’re juicy, much better than playing the vanilla ingénues, you know—Miss Vanilla Ice Cream,” Walter said in an AV Club website interview.
Her most memorable film role was in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller “Play Misty For Me” — her first significant lead — in which she plays Evelyn Draper, the woman who becomes obsessed with Eastwood’s disc jockey character. Walter was widely praised for her unnerving performance.
Roger Ebert wrote in his review that, “She is something like flypaper; the more you struggle against her personality, the more tightly you’re held.”
“Arrested Development” represented a second act for Walter, and earned her admiration from a new generation of fans.
Walter’s feature debut was in the 1964 film “Lilith,” with Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg and Gene Hackman, who was also on his first film.
She won a role in John Frankenheimer’s racing epic “Grand Prix,” from 1966, as the glamorous but discontented wife of a Formula One racer who falls for another driver.
That same year she appeared in Sidney Lumet’s “The Group,” a female-led ensemble about the graduates of a prestigious university (Walter played the catty Libby), and acted for Lumet again in 1968’s “Bye Bye Braverman.”
Walter is survived by daughter and grandson Micah Heymann.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.