RIP Jessica Walter…An Appreciation Of Her Life And A Look At Her Classic Thriller “Play Misty For Me…”

RIP Jessica Walter…

Very sad news. Jessica Walter, well known for her stage, TV and film work, has died at the age of 80.

As reports:

“Jessica Walter, the award-winning actress whose career spanned five decades, passed away in her sleep at home in New York City on Wednesday, March 24th.” 

Deadline goes on:

“Walter’s career included everything from a standout turn in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, Play Misty for Me to The Flamingo Kid to her Emmy-nominated turns on Trapper John M..D. and Streets of San Francisco. For her performance as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, Walter earned yet another Emmy nomination (Outstanding Supporting Actress) and two SAG nominations. Walter won an Emmy for Amy Prentiss.”

Walter began her career in her hometown of New York City where she appeared in numerous Broadway productions including Advise and Consent, Neil Simon’s RumorsA Severed HeadNightlife and Photo Finish, for which she earned the Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Walter is survived by daughter Brooke Bowman, who is SVP Drama programming at Fox Entertainment, and grandson Micah Heymann. 

Bowman said in a statement: “It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica. 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.”

Play Misty For Me!

This is where I first saw her incredible talent – in a mesmerizing performance of a woman who stalks a successful Radio DJ – played by Clint Eastwood!

It was Eastwood’s terrific 1971 directorial debut:


“Play Misty For Me!”

Clint starred in this classic thriller, and also made his directorial debut…check out the trailer:


Eastwood plays a Jazz DJ, who makes a BIG mistake when he picks up one of his fans – at a bar that is tended by legendary Director Don Siegel!


Siegel is clearly having a blast in this scene, but for Jessica Walter, her fascination with Eastwood turns deadly in a hurry…


Watch this 1971 thriller, and you will notice that “Fatal Attraction” uses many of the same ideas…Clint’s directorial debut is a lean and clean thriller…Donna Mills also stars, and Clint gives a terrific performance as well as a guy who likes to fool around – until it comes back to haunt him with a vengeance!

Walter was so great in this film – she owns every scene – from seductive to flirtatious, to angry and psychotic – sometimes int he same scene!

By the way, this was one of three that Clint Eastwood made in 1971: while he acted and directed this one, he also starred in one of the most popular and controversial films of that year:

It was an incredible creative partnership with Director Don Siegel – yes, the bartender from “Misty” – click here to see the whole story of this unique triple bill:

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RIP Jessica Walter…

Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Pop Culture, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show

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15 replies

  1. Never understood why her film career didn’t take off after Misty (in my opinion, she was better than Glenn Close in Fata Attraction). She was also great in Flamingo Kid (I’ve never seen her TV work). RIP


  2. So glad you posted about her in Play Misty for Me. This was where Jessica initially came on my radar when I saw Eastwood’s directorial debut first-run. What a magnificent performance and career from that point forward. Whenever I saw her thereafter, in film or television, she always had my attention. She will be greatly missed.


  3. I saw this on the news earlier. How very sad indeed. Jessica Walter was fantastic. I loved her in Arrested Development. I’m glad she at least passed peacefully but still, it makes me far too aware of mortality when my parents are in their 70s. I think it’s time for a Play Misty For Me re-watch. Lovely tribute, John. x


    • Thank you for reading…I own that film on DVD and it is due a rewatch…and unfortunately a number of great entertainers are getting up there in age…thank you for commenting always great to hear from you


  4. First George Segal, now Jessica Walters. Wonderful tribute to a magnificent actress John!


  5. I loved her in that film and also in her later years in arrested development- she could play all across the board – a classic actress who will be missed


  6. Oh, sad news. But that movie scared the heck out of me


  7. Sad news indeed. ‘Play Misty’ is one of my favorite Eastwood films, and Jessica took her role and ran with it magnificently.
    (I forget how old those stars must be. Makes me feel even older.)
    Best wishes, Pete.


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