Jessica Walter Biography

(Best Known for Her Role as ‘Lucille Bluth’ in the TV Series ‘Arrested Development’)

Birthday: January 31, 1941 (Aquarius)

Born In: New York City, New York, United States

Jessica Walter is an American theater, movie, and TV actor. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Astoria, New York, she was trained in acting at the ‘Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater,’ New York. Starting her career with stage appearances, she won the ‘Clarence Derwent Award’ for the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ for her performance in Peter Ustinov’s ‘Photo Finish.’ Her ‘Broadway’ projects include ‘Rumors,’ ‘Nightlife,’ and ‘A Severed Head.’ Walter has worked in innumerable TV series, including ‘Love of Life,’ ‘90210,’ and ‘Jennifer Falls.’ She has won the ‘Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in Miniseries’ in 1975, for her titular role in the police drama series ‘Amy Prentiss.’ In 2005, she earned an ‘Emmy nomination’ for the comedy series ‘Arrested Development.’ Her remarkable film credits include ‘The Group,’ ‘Grand Prix,’ and ‘The Flamingo Kid.’ She received a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination for her performance in Clint Eastwood’s ‘Play Misty for Me.’ She has also worked as a voiceover artist. Currently, she lends voice to ‘Malory Archer’ in the animated series ‘Archer.’ Walter was married to TV director Ross Bowman. They have a daughter. She is now married to ‘Tony’-winning actor Ron Leibman.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 80


Spouse/Ex-: Ron Leibman (m. 1983), Ross Bowman (m. 1966–1978)

father: David Walter

mother: Esther Walter

siblings: Richard Walter

children: Brooke Bowman

Born Country: United States

Jewish Actresses Actresses

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Females

Died on: March 24, 2021

place of death: New York City, New York, United States

Ancestry: Russian American

Notable Alumni: Neighborhood Playhouse School Of The Theatre

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Neighborhood Playhouse School Of The Theatre

Childhood & Early Life
Walter was born on January 31, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Esther (née Groisser) and David Walter, who was a double bassist with the ‘NBC Symphony Orchestra’ and the ‘NYC Ballet Orchestra.’ She is of Russian Jewish ancestry (her mother was a Russian immigrant). Walter grew up in Astoria, Queens, New York. Her brother, Richard Walter, is the chairman of the ‘UCLA’ screenwriting program.
Walter studied at New York’s ‘High School of Performing Arts’ and then at the ‘Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater,’ where James Caan, Walter Koenig, and producer Jerry Weintraub were her classmates. During her teenage years, she faked her age to appear as a chorus girl in the ‘Copacabana’ club, New York.
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Walter started her professional life with theater. Her first stage performance was as a kid sister in ‘Middle of the Night’ (1958). In 1961, she made her ‘Broadway’ debut with ‘Advise and Consent.’ She appeared in ‘Nightlife’ in 1962. She also appeared in the summer stock play ‘Fair Game’ (1962).
Her performance in Peter Ustinov’s 1963 production ‘Photo Finish’ earned her the ‘Clarence Derwent Award’ for the ‘Most Promising Newcomer.’ During her theater days, she appeared at New York’s ‘Playwright’s Horizon’ and Los Angeles’ ‘Theater Center.’
Later, she made a transition to screen roles. Walter’s first notable work on TV was that of ‘Julie Murano’ in the ‘CBS’ soap opera ‘Love of Life’ (1962–1965). Her other initial TV projects included the series ‘The Rogues,’ ‘Flippers,’ ‘For the People,’ ‘The Defenders,’ and ‘Route 66.
Walter made her film debut with ‘Lilith’ (1964), in which she worked with Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg. She got a good breakthrough in 1966, with Sidney Lumet’s film ‘The Group.’ The film revolved around the lives of a group of college friends over 7 years. She essayed the role of sharp-witted ‘Libby,’ who was shown transforming over the years. Her other movies of that period were ‘Grand Prix’ (1966), Lumet’s comedy film ‘Bye Bye Braverman’ (1968), and ‘Number One’ (1969).
Walter (along with her then-husband, Ross Bowman) moved to Los Angeles in 1969. Clint Eastwood noticed her in ‘The Group’ and cast her in the role of an obsessive stalker in his ‘Play Misty for Me’ (1971). Her performance won her accolades and a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination.
Walter played the titular role in the miniseries ‘Amy Prentiss’ (1974). The series had her performing as one of San Francisco’s first female chief of detectives and won her the ‘Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.’ She also received ‘Emmy’ nominations for her guest roles in ‘The Streets of San Francisco’ (1972) and ‘Trapper John M.D.’ (1979).
Some of Walter’s notable films are ‘The Flamingo Kid’ (1984), ‘Tapeheads’ (1988), ‘PCU’ (1994), and the comedy film ‘Slums of Beverly Hills’ (1998). She has appeared more in TV series and theater than in movies. In 1986, she toured with the stage production ‘Tartuffe,’ across various US cities.
Walter has been part of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ (four appearances), ‘The Love Boat’ (six appearances), ‘Mannix’ (four appearances), and ‘The F.B.I.’ (six appearances). She lent her voice to ‘Fran Sinclair’ in the animated sitcom ‘Dinosaurs’ and also voiced various commercials. In 2008 and 2009, she appeared as ‘Tabitha Wilson’ in the first season of ‘90210’ and guest-starred in ‘Rules of Engagement’ and ‘Law & Order: SVU.’
After earning accolades for her dramatic roles, Walter began appearing more in comedies. ‘Fox’s much-admired comedy series ‘Arrested Development,’ which premiered in 2003, featured her as the acid-tongued, vodka-swilling ‘Lucille Bluth,’ a role that fetched her praises. In 2005, she was nominated for the ‘Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.’ After three seasons, ‘Fox’ canceled the series in 2006. However, owing to the loyal fan base the show had acquired, ‘Netflix’ revived it in 2013. She appeared in the fifth season of the revival, in 2018.
This was followed by another role of a mother, ‘Malory Archer,’ in the ‘FX’ animated spy comedy ‘Archer’ (2009–present). The 2011 ‘Broadway’ revival of the musical comedy ‘Anything Goes’ (which won a ‘Tony Award’), featured Walter as a snooty mother, ‘Mrs. Harcourt.’ Following this, she was the psychotherapist mother named’ ‘Maggie’ in ‘TV Land’s comedy series ‘Jennifer Falls’ (2014).
In May 2018, Walter was involved in a controversy, when in a cast interview with ‘The New York Times,’ she was asked about an on-set incident of harassment by her ‘Arrested Development’ co-star Jeffery Tambor. She got emotional but explained that after his apology, she had decided to “let it go.” Other male cast members present there received criticism for protecting Tambor. Later, they apologized to Walter.
Family & Personal Life
On March 27, 1966, Walter married ‘Broadway’ manager and TV director Ross Bowman, whom she had met during the production of ‘Advise and Consent.’ Their daughter, Brooke Bowman, was born in 1972. Brooke is currently an executive at ‘Fox TV.’ Walter and Ross divorced in 1978.
Walter married actor Ron Leibman on June 26, 1983. They have appeared together in various productions, including the play ‘Rumors’ and the comedy movie ‘Dummy.’


Primetime Emmy Awards
1975 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Amy Prentiss (1974)

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