Jessica Walter

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Jessica Walter
Jessica Walter.jpg
Walter at a premiere party for 90210, Malibu, California, August 23, 2008
Born (1941-01-31) January 31, 1941 (age 73)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Ross Bowman (1966-1978; divorced; 1 child)
Ron Leibman (1983-present)
Children Brooke Bowman (b. 1972)
Signature JessicaWalter.png

Jessica Walter (born January 31, 1941) is an American actress, known for the films Play Misty for Me, Grand Prix, and for her role as Lucille Bluth on the sitcom Arrested Development. She was a series regular for the first half of season one of 90210 as Tabitha Wilson, provided the voice of the character Fran Sinclair in the TV series Dinosaurs, and starred as the title character of the television series Amy Prentiss for which she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie.

Currently she is the voice actor for Malory Archer in the FX animated series Archer.

Early life[edit]

Walter was born in Brooklyn to Esther (née Groisser) and David Walter, a musician of note who was a member of the NBC Symphony, and the NYC Ballet Orchestra.[1][2] She was raised Jewish in Queens, New York, and graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. In the early 1960s, she trained alongside James Caan and Christopher Lloyd at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse before getting her big break, a regular role on the soap opera Love of Life.[3] She appeared on the show from 1962 to 1965.


Jessica Walter began her on-screen acting career as Julie Murano on the television series, Love of Life, which ran from September 1951 until February 1980. During Walter's stint on Love of Life, she also acted in many other popular television series, namely Naked City, East Side/West Side, Ben Casey, Route 66, Lilith, The Doctors and the Nurses, The Rogues, and The Defenders. Amongst those series is Walter's notable role as Lorna Richmond on "The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow" episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour which aired in April 14, 1964.

Walter appeared in the first episode of Flipper, shown in in September 1964. Also in 1964, she guest starred with Jack Lord, Nick Adams, and Herb Edelman in the episode "How Much for a Prince?" of CBS's short-lived drama The Reporter, with Harry Guardino in the title role. In 1966 she appeared in an episode of The Fugitive entitled "The White Knight."

Her earliest notable film role was in the 1971 movie Play Misty for Me, in which she played a young woman with behavior consistent with borderline personality disorder who becomes infatuated with and ultimately stalks a disc jockey (played by Clint Eastwood who was also making in his directorial debut). For her performance in Play Misty, Walter received a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama category[4] and critical praise, with Roger Ebert describing Walter as demonstrating "unnerving effectiveness" in the role.[5] Walter's other film credits from that era include Lilith, Grand Prix, The Group, Bye Bye Braverman, Number One and Dr. Strange.

In 1974, Walter co-starred with Peter Falk, Jose Ferrer and Lew Ayres in the Columbo episode "Mind Over Mayhem." During the 1974-75 TV season, she was the star of Amy Prentiss, a spinoff of Ironside that became an element of the NBC Mystery Movie. Walter had a recurring role on Trapper John, M.D. as Melanie McIntyre, Trapper John's former wife. She was the producers' first choice for the role of "Alexis Carrington" in the primetime soap opera Dynasty. In 1983, she had a role in the short-lived NBC primetime soap opera Bare Essence as "Ava Marshall."

Since then, she has worked most frequently in television and theater, though she did appear in some films including The Flamingo Kid in 1984 and the 1994 film PCU. 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 (George Segal).

From 2003 to 2006, she appeared in a regular role as the scheming, alcoholic socialite matriarch Lucille Bluth on Fox's critically acclaimed comedy series, Arrested Development. Despite her convincing portrayal of Lucille (in 2005, Walter received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the role), the actress has maintained that "I'm nothing like Lucille. Nothing. My daughter will tell you. I'm really a very nice, boring person."[3] Despite acclaim from critics, Arrested Development received low ratings and viewership on Fox, which canceled the series in 2006.

Walter played Tabitha Wilson, a similar character, on the first thirteen episodes of the first season of 90210, and then the character was written off. She also guest starred on the situational comedy Rules of Engagement in the Season 1, Episode 5 titled "Kids."

Walter guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order: SVU in the fall of 2009. She appeared in the third episode of Season 11, which is titled "Solitary," as a legal-aid lawyer named Petra Gilmartin.[6]

She currently voices spymistress Malory Archer on the FX network's animated show Archer; Walter was drawn to the role after learning that the script for the pilot explicitly drew comparisons between Malory and Walter (as Lucille Bluth). She recently starred as Evangeline Harcourt in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, which began previews in March 2011 and officially opened on April 7, 2011.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1983, Walter has been married to actor Ron Leibman, with whom she co-starred in Neil Simon's play Rumors. They also appeared together as husband and wife in the film Dummy and in the TV series Law & Order in the episode "House Counsel," and he joined the cast of Archer, playing Malory Archer's new husband.

Walter has a daughter, Brooke Bowman, who was born in 1972 and is currently a development executive for ABC Family,[8] from her 12-year marriage to Ross Bowman, a former Broadway stage manager and television director.[9] The author and screenwriter Richard Walter is Jessica's brother.


Year Filmography Roles Notes
1964 Lilith Laura
1966 Grand Prix Pat Stoddard Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer - Female
1966 The Group Libby
1968 Bye Bye Braverman Inez Braverman
1969 Number One Julie Catlan
1970 Mission: Impossible Valerie (1 episode, Orpheus)
1971 Play Misty For Me Evelyn Draper Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1973 Banacek Erica Osburn (1 episode, Two Million Clams for Cap'N Jack)
1974 Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem Dr. Margaret Nicholson
1974–1975 Amy Prentiss Amy Prentiss TV series
Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1977 Wonder Woman Gloria
1978 Dr. Strange Morgan le Fay (TV)
1979 Goldengirl Melody
1979 Vampire Nicole DeCamp (TV film)
1981 Going Ape! Fiona
1982 Spring Fever Celia Berryman
1982 Joanie Loves Chachi Vanessa Sterling "Everybody Loves Aunt Vanessa" (ABC-TV November 4, 1982)
1984 Terror in the Aisles Evelyn Draper Archival - segment Play Misty for Me
1984 The Flamingo Kid Phyllis Brody
1984 Secret Places Girl #1 in art room
1986 Novel Connection & Magnum on Ice Joan Forrester Crossover episode of Magnum PI and Murder She Wrote
1988 Tapeheads Kay Mart
1991 Murder She Wrote Jane Dawson
1991–1995 Dinosaurs Fran Sinclair (voice)
1993 Ghost in the Machine Elaine aka Deadly Terror
1994 PCU President Garcia-Thompson
1994 Babylon 5 Senator Elise Voudreau (1 episode, A Spider in the Web)
1995 Temptress Dr. Phyllis Evergreen
1996 The Magic School Bus Ashley Walker-Club-Dupree (1 episode, "Rocks and Rolls")
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Doris Zimmerman
2001 My Best Friend's Wife Mrs. Epstein
2003 Dummy Fern Schoichet
2003–2006, 2013 Arrested Development Lucille Bluth (68 episodes)
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2003)
TV Land Award for Future Classic (2004)
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Comedy Series (2005)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2005, 2006)
2006 Unaccompanied Minors Cindi
2007-2010 Saving Grace Betty Hanadarko (5 episodes)
2007 Rules of Engagement Constance (1 episode, Kids)
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Eleanor Reynolds (1 episode)
2008–2009 90210 Tabitha Wilson series regular (13 episodes)
2009 Make It Or Break It Grandma Tanner (1 episode, Battle of the Flexes)
2009 Law & Order: SVU Attorney Petra Gilmartin
2009–present Archer Malory Archer (voice) series regular
2010 Gravity Henrietta (5 episodes)
2010 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Mrs. Wyatt (1 episode, "Howl Of The Fright Hound")
2011–2012 Retired at 35 Elaine Robbins series regular
2011 The Big Bang Theory Mrs. Latham (1 episode, The Benefactor Factor[10])
2012 Bending the Rules Lena Gold
2014 Jennifer Falls Maggie Upcoming series


  1. ^ "Jessica Walter Biography (1941?-)". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  2. ^ "David Walter". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b "Jessica Walter: Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development talks about her kooky character". Entertainment Weekly. 2005-06-24. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  4. ^ Awards for 1972 - Golden Globes,
  5. ^ [Ebert, Roger (1971) Play Misty for Me, retrieved March 6, 2014
  6. ^ Robyn Ross (5 August 2009). "Jessica Walter on SVU: An Arresting Development". Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Bon Voyage! Anything Goes, With Sutton Foster and Joel Grey, Opens on Broadway"
  8. ^ Keck, William (2005-09-16). "A terrific 'Development' boosts Jessica Walter's career". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  9. ^ "Egg Rolls Brought Ron Leibman and Jessica Walter to the Altar and Left Them Hungry for More", People magazine, July 16, 1984
  10. ^ "Listings - BIG BANG THEORY, THE on CBS". 2011-02-10. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 

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