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Jessica Walter, dead at 80, was the ultimate New Yorker

Jessica Walter was beloved as one in all TV’s most privileged Californians, Lucille Bluth, however in actual life she was the quintessential New Yorker. 

The actress died Wednesday at age 80 at house in New York. She was born in Brooklyn and raised in Astoria, Queens.

“My husband and I are mostly in Pound Ridge [Westchester], but we do love the hustle and bustle in the Upper West Side,” she advised The Post in 2018 of her pied-à-terre. “Every day is an adventure here.”

Walter’s personal journey started along with her first glimpse of showbiz at none aside from the iconic Rockefeller Center. Her dad, a bass violinist with the NBC Orchestra and later for “The Tonight Show” with Steve Allen, would commonly take his little lady into the studio.

“We used to watch the rehearsals,” she told Seth Meyers on “Late Night” in 2019. “It gave me a lot of connections.” 

That’s how a younger Walter obtained an early gig in the “peanut gallery” of the child’s present “Howdy Doody,” which was additionally filmed in the well-known Midtown constructing.   

Jessica Walter waves to admirers before a television appearance in New York in 2018.
Jessica Walter waves to admirers earlier than a tv look in New York in 2018.
GC Images

The budding actress caught the bug right here and nonetheless didn’t hightail it West instantly. She attended the High School of the Performing Arts (from the film “Fame”), situated on Sixth Avenue again then, and later educated at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. 

Watch her in 1971’s “Play Misty For Me” — the first movie Clint Eastwood ever directed — as Evelyn, an unstable lady who stalks a DJ, performed by Eastwood. “You’re nothing!” she yells at him from the doorway of her condominium. “You’re not even good in bed! I just felt sorry for you — that’s all!”

What you see shouldn’t be the detached appearing of a Hollywood child who is aware of in her DNA easy methods to simply be fairly (she was), study the strains and hit her marks; that is the psychologically dedicated, off-the-rails tirade of an actress who studied with Sanford Meisner and had already been on Broadway in performs written by Peter Ustinov (“Photo Finish”) and produced by David Merrick (“A Severed Head”). 

Walter regularly did much less and fewer movie and stage and have become a mainstay of tv as a substitute, showing in numerous sequence from the Nineteen Seventies up till simply final year. But her most iconic and acclaimed position was as the acid-tongued mom of the Bluth household in “Arrested Development” — Lucille. She’s the kind of lovable monster Eugene O’Neill would possibly’ve provide you with had the playwright pursued stand-up comedy.

“I love all my children equally,” Lucille as soon as stated, earlier than a quick-cut to her hours later, loose-lipped with a martini. “I don’t care for Gob.”

Mitchell Hurwitz’s sensible Fox comedy was, after all, set in Southern California. However, trying again on the chilly zingers, dismissive laughs, free-flowing clear liquor and — good God — her rivalry with Liza Minnelli, Lucille was extra of an Elaine Stritch than a Florence Henderson. She was, at coronary heart, a New Yorker.

In life and in love, Walter all the time got here again to Broadway. In 1983 she married the Tony Award-winning actor Ron Leibman (“Angels in America: Millennium Approaches”), who died in 2019. Early of their marriage, they starred collectively in Neil Simon’s Broadway farce “Rumors,” set in upstate New York. But Walters’ ultimate position on the Great White Way was as a tart-tongued mom — go determine — in the musical “Anything Goes” in 2011.

To quote its nice composer, Cole Porter: Bon voyage.

Jessica Walter played Lucille Bluth on
Jessica Walter performed Lucille Bluth on “Arrested Development.”
Mike Yarish for Netflix