In the years before her death this week at 80, actor Jessica Walter captured the essence of the 2000s with her embodiments of cold, distant, self-centered matriarchs on Archer and Arrested Development. But Walter’s career did not begin with Y2K. She's actually been making her mark on the entertainment industry since her first credited role in 1962 on the soap opera Love of Life.
Walter's dramatic style and grace meshed perfectly with the over-the-top storylines of daytime drama. She possessed an ability to draw audiences in to whatever catastrophes writers could invent for her, and this was especially true when she took on the starring role the 1971 thriller Play Misty for Me, for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination.
There was no single genre that could contain Walter. She worked in drama, comedy, horror, children’s television, and theatre. But she will always be remembered most for playing Lucille Bluth in the family comedy Arrested Development from 2003 through 2019. Walter’s dramatic chops added a unique sense of authenticity to her outrageous character who brought the “bad mom” trope to unthinkable and hilarious new lows. And she continued this form of comedy in the animated FX show Archer where she played a less pretentious, but equally funny mother.
The importance of Walter’s career also continued off-screen. When her Arrested Development co-star Jeffrey Tambor was accused of sexual harassment on his Amazon Prime show Transparent in 2018, Walter spoke out against his treatment of her on their set. During an interview that same year with The New York Times, Walter revealed the abuse that she received from Tambor. “Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize," she said. "I have to let it go.” The men on the show, inculding Jason Bateman, tried to minimize Walter’s experiences, but she refused to back down stating, “in almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set.” Walter’s strength to stand up to her male colleagues and defend her response to verbal harassment was a memorable moment in the advancement of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood.
Jessica Walter will always be remembered as a shining light in the entertainment industry. To honor her, here are five memorable Lucille Bluth quotes that hopefully your mom has never said to you.
1. Lucille’s equal dedication to her children
2. This quote that could’ve come from your senator while they were voting on the stimulus checks
Via JoshWolf on Twitter
3. Disney+’s new development strategy
4. A universal motto for zoom meetings
5. And finally this conversation ender
Top photo: Courtesy of Netflix
More From BUST
Olivia McCormack is a senior at American University studying journalism. She's an avid fan of movies and TV and is currently the Managing Editor of The Rival American. Follow her on Twitter, @wonk_ur_world, and on Lettterboxd, @Ob_LIV_ious.