Arrested Development star Jessica Walter dies aged 80

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She played Lucille Bluth on the show for five seasons.

ACTOR JESSICA WALTER, best known to modern audiences as the acerbic matriarch of the comedy Arrested Development, has died at the age of 80.

The Emmy-winning actress appeared in dozens of TV shows and films such as Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me and her 1966 breakout role Grand Prix, before portraying the martini-swilling Lucille Bluth in the US series.

“It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica,” her daughter Brooke Bowman confirmed in a statement.

“A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off.

“While her legacy will live on through her body of work, she will also be remembered by many for her wit, class and overall joie de vivre.”

The offbeat tale of a wealthy and deeply dysfunctional Californian family, Arrested Development earned critical acclaim during its original run on Fox before it was cancelled in 2006.

An impassioned campaign from its legion of fans led to the show’s revival on Netflix for two more seasons, and it is regularly listed among the most influential modern TV sitcoms.

The show starred Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera and Portia de Rossi, with executive producer Ron Howard narrating.

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“She was a force, and her talent and timing were unmatched. Rest In Peace Mama Bluth,” tweeted co-star Tony Hale.

“Love you Gangie,” added Alia Shawkat, using the family’s affectionate nickname for Lucille.

Walter also earned praise for speaking about the abuse she received from co-star Jeffrey Tambor, who played her husband in the show.

In 2017, the issue was brought up when the show’s cast sat down with The New York Times and Tambor claimed he had “profusely” apologised to Walter for outbursts of anger towards her.

She explained that Tambor’s behavior was unlike anything she had ever encountered before.

“In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set,” Walter said.

But she added: “He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologise. I have to let it go.”

Contains reporting by Stephen McDermott.

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