VAMPIRE opens with the dedication of a newly built church, designed by husband-and-wife architects “John and Leslie Rawlins” (Jason Miller and Kathryn Harrold). In attendance at the dedication is retired police detective “Harry Kilcoyne” (E.G. Marshall), who’s apparently the only person there who notices that the shadow cast by the cross on top of the church is burning a hole into the ground nearby. Later that night, a man bursts out of the damaged ground. Not long after, Leslie’s friend, “Nicole DeCamp” (Jessica Walter) gushes to her at a party about her new boyfriend, millionaire “Anton Voytek” (Richard Lynch), telling Leslie “It started out as business, and then…wow!”
Anton is an ascot-wearing charmer whom Leslie is entranced by immediately, staring at him in open mouthed awe. John is less enamored of him, but certainly interested in the money Anton offers to help recover his family’s priceless art collection from the ruins of an old house.
Jessica Walter in VAMPIRE
E.W. Swackhamer directed this made-for-television horror film, written by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll. It aired on ABC on 7 October 1979. Fred Karlin’s score was released by Reel Music in 1995.
Jeremy Joe Kronsberg wrote EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE (1978), a Clint Eastwood movie which featured one of Bobby Berosini’s trained orangutans, known as the “Orang-Utans." Seeing the audience reaction to the antics of the animal, Kronsberg thought it would be a good idea to build a film around them. So, Kronsberg centered the screenplay of GOING APE! on three of Berosini’s “Orang-Utans,” and made his feature directorial debut on the film.
In the film, when 80-year-old Max Sabatini dies, he leaves his three prized orangutans in the care of his only son, “Foster” (Tony Danza). In order to inherit his father's five-million-dollar fortune, Foster must take care of the apes for the next two years. This is too much for his girlfriend “Cynthia” (Stacey Nelkin), who moves out of Foster’s apartment. But when her mother “Fiona” (Jessica Walter) finds out that Cynthia has left one of her mother’s expensive paintings at Foster’s apartment, Fiona insists on retrieving it.
Elmer Bernstein’s score was released by Intrada in 2015. The score was nominated for a “Stinker Award” as the “Most Intrusive Musical Score,” losing to Tangerine Dream for THIEF. GOING APE! generated mediocre box office of $5.5 million.
In SPRING FEVER, teenaged tennis champion “Karen ‘K.C.’ Castle” (Carling Bassett) travels from Las Vegas to Florida with her mother, “Stevie” (Susan Anton), for the Junior National tennis tournament. Stevie, a showgirl and aspiring singer, promises her daughter that she will avoid romantic encounters with men during their stay. Once there, K.C. meets league champion “Missy Berryman” (Shawn Foltz) at the practice courts. Their conversation is interrupted by “Celia” (Jessica Walter), Missy’s snobbish mother, who scolds her daughter for associating with K.C., based on Stevie’s reputation for promiscuity.
This tame would-be teen exploitation film was produced by John F. Bassett, the father of star and adolescent Canadian tennis champion Carling Bassett. Joseph L. Scanlan directed the 1982 release. Fred Mollin provided the unreleased score. The $4.3 million production made little impression at the box office.
“Bare Essence” was a prime time soap opera that explored the intrigues of the perfume industry. It first appeared in the form of a two-part, 4-hour TV miniseries shown over two nights on October 4 and 5, 1982 on CBS. But CBS decided against making it into a series, so NBC picked it up.
In the series, Genie Francis starred as “Tyger Hayes,” who, after losing her husband Chase Marshall in a racing car accident, decides to go into the Marshall family perfume business. Chase's father “Hadden” (John Dehner) opposes Tyger's efforts to join the family business, Kellico, but she is encouraged by Hadden's sister “Margaret” (Susan French) to try her hand with a new line of perfumes. “Ava Marshall” (Jessica Walter), the widow of Hadden's other son, is concerned that any success Tyger might have will undermine the position of her son “Marcus” (Jonathan Frakes) in the company.
NBC premiered the series on Tuesday, 15 February 1983, at 9 PM, as a mid-season replacement for the cancelled Robert Urich action-adventures series “Gavilan.” “Bare Essence” followed “The A-Team,” the #10-rated series on television, but a show about the perfume industry wasn’t slated to retain much of “The A-Team”’s audience. Even worse, “Bare Essence” went up against the same heavy competition that killed “Gavilan.” There was “The CBS Tuesday Night Movies” (#27 in the ratings). ABC offered “Three’s Company” (the 6th-highest-rated series) and “9 to 5” (the 15th-highest-rated series). “Bare Essence” suffered the same fate as “Gavilan” and was cancelled after 11 episodes.
THE RETURN OF MARCUS WELBY, M.D. recast Robert Young in the Emmy-winning role he played from 1969 to 1976. In this made-for-television film, Welby faces the loss of hospital accreditation because of his age. Jessica Walter is “Astrid Carlisle,” the head of the conglomerate that wants Welby and other old doctors fired to save costs. Alexander Singer directed the film, which aired on ABC on 16 May 1984. Leonard Rosenman provided the unreleased score.
THE FLAMINGO KID was a coming-of-age tale that took place during the summer of 1963. It told the story of "Jeffrey Willis" (Matt Dillon), a boy who has just finished high school and isn't quite sure what the future holds. He gets a summer job at the Flamingo Club where he is impressed by the luxurious club and is smitten upon meeting the beautiful, blonde “Carla Samson” (Janet Jones) from California who is staying the summer with her relatives, the wealthy Brody family. Jeffrey meets "Phil Brody" (Richard Crenna), a successful car dealer who fills Jeffrey's head with ideas about how to make his fortune. Jessica Walter plays Phil’s snotty wife, “Phyllis Brody.”
Janet Jones, Matt Dillon, and Jessica Walter in THE FLAMINGO KID
Gary Marshall directed the 1984 film. The film was the first to receive the newly-created PG-13 rating. But the picture was shelved for five months, making RED DAWN the first film to be released with a PG-13 rating. Curt Sobel scored the $9 million film, which grossed about $24 million. Both Motown and Varese Sarabande released the same LP of period pop songs from the film, neither of whom have re-issued the album on CD.
Inspired by the 1964 Bette Davis movie DEAD RINGER, KILLER IN THE MIRROR starred Ann Jillian as identical twins “Samantha” and “Karen”—one an adulteress who murdered her husband, the other her estranged sister who is charged with the crime. Jessica Walter plays the pair’s mother, “Francesca.”
Frank De Felitta directed and co-wrote the film, which utilized a new photographic technique called the “Gemini process,” which not only allowed the “twins” to appear in the same scene, but appeared to allow them to touch one another. The film aired on NBC on 31 March 1986. Gil Mellé provided the unreleased score.
In the 1988 comedy TAPEHEADS, John Cusack and Tim Robbins play best friends, “Josh” and “Ivan,” who try to make it in the music video business. When the friends go to a bar and see “The Swanky Modes,” a rhythm and blues duo featuring "Lester and Billy Diamond," they tell the brothers that The Swanky Modes are their favorite band, and that they would love to produce a live Swanky Modes televised concert. At one point, the boys get a job to record a charity ball. Arriving at the mansion of presidential candidate “Norman Mart” (Clu Gulager), Josh and Ivan meet Norman’s wife, “Kay” (Jessica Walter).
Forty singers, songwriters, and musical groups, such as Curtis Mayfield, members of The Neville Brothers, members of The Spinners, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Bobby Womack, auditioned for the roles of “Lester Diamond” and “Billy Diamond.” The parts eventually went to saxophonist Junior Walker (of Motown's "Junior Walker and the All Stars") and R&B singer Sam Moore (of "Sam and Dave"). The soul-singing pair have 6 of the 10 tracks on the soundtrack. King Cotton, Bo Diddley, Devo, and the group Fishbone (who also scored the film) take the remaining tracks on the Island Records release.
Just before the film as set to be released by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, DEG went bankrupt. The film was picked up by Avenue Pictures, but due to the film’s poor performance in forty-eight U.S. markets after a two-week release, Avenue pulled the picture from theaters. After polling theater patrons, Avenue learned that the film’s “original campaign was too hip and too selective,” and set about to promote the film as more “slapstick.” The picture had two midnight showings, one in late November 1988 and one in late December 1988, before being re-released on 13 January 1989 in Boston. Ultimately, the $3 million film took in only $344,000 at the U.S. box office.
In PCU (Politically Correct University), a high school senior visits college for the weekend, and stays at the wildest house on campus. Slobbish college flunkie “James 'Droz' Andrews” (Jeremy Piven) shows visiting “pre-frosh” “Tom Lawrence” (Chris Young) the ropes in how Port Chester University operates in a touchy, politically-correct world. Antagonizing the “heroic” party animals are Young Republican smart aleck “Rand McPherson” (David Spade) and college President “Garcia-Thompson” (Jessica Walter).
David Spade and Jessica Walter in PCU
This 1994 comedy was written by Adam Leff and Zak Penn, and was directed by Hart Bochner. Only one track from Steve Vai’s score appeared on the song-track CD from Fox Records. The film generated minimal box office of $4.3 million.
“Dinosaurs” was an animatronic television sitcom initially set in 60,000,003 BC in Pangaea. The show centers on the Sinclair family: “Earl Sneed Sinclair” (the father, voiced by Stuart Pankin), “Fran Sinclair” (née Phillips – the mother, voiced by Jessica Walter), their three children--son, “Robbie” (Jason Willinger); daughter, “Charlene” (Sally Struthers); and infant, “Baby Sinclair” (Kevin Clash)--and Fran's mother, “Ethyl” (Florence Stanley).
Jessica Walter and Stuart Pankin in “Dinosaurs”
Jim Henson had conceived the series in 1988, but he died before it went on the air. Henson’s Creature Shop designed the Dinosaurs' animatronics with the requirements of a long-running series in mind. They were engineered to be far more robust and easy to maintain than would be necessary for a movie.
ABC gave the show a try-out in the Spring of 1991, premiering it on Friday, April 26 at 8:30 PM, after the hit sitcom “Family Matters” ended its season’s run. The five episodes that were broadcast did reasonably well, and the series was given a full-season pickup for the 1991-92 season.
In its second season (1991-92), “Dinosaurs” was moved to Wednesday nights at 8 PM. NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” ruled the time slot, as the #13-rated show for the season. But “Dinosaurs” attracted a different audience and was brought back.
Jessica Walter as “Fran” in “Dinosaurs”
In season 3 (1992-93), the show was moved again to Friday’s at 9 PM. There it faced a declining “Designing Women” on CBS (in its last season) and the new prime-time soap “The Round Table” on NBC, which was cancelled after a month and replaced with movies. “Dinosaurs” was not a large ratings-getter, so NBC ordered 14 more episodes for use as a replacement show for the 1993-94 season.
“Dinosaurs” ran seven of those episodes in the summer of 1994 on Wednesdays at 8 PM as a replacement for the failed sitcom “Thea.” The remaining seven went unaired, marking the end to the series, after 65 episodes were produced.
SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS is set in 1976, when lower-middle-class teenager “Vivian” (Natasha Lyonne) struggles to cope living with her neurotic family of nomads on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. Vivian’s father “Murray” (Alan Arkin) has no job, and the family lives in a cramped apartment. When Vivian’s cousin “Rita” (Marisa Tomei) gets into trouble with drugs, and Rita's dad “Mickey” (Carl Reiner) offers to pay Arkin and family to look after her, the family is able to afford a more "posh" apartment complex. Jessica Walter plays “Doris,” a woman who wants Murray to move in with her since she wants a companion.
Alan Arkin, Natasha Lyonne, and Jessica Walter in SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS
Tamara Jenkins wrote and directed this 1998 comedy-drama. The film grossed $5.5 million, decent for a low-budget independent production. Rolfe Kent’s score cues shared the BMG/RCA/Fox CD soundtrack release with twice as many songs.
The sitcom “Arrested Development” revolves around the members of the Bluth family, a formerly wealthy family who continue to lead extravagant lifestyles despite their changed circumstances and who often find themselves drawn into interactions with incestuous undertones. At the center of the show is “Michael Bluth” (Jason Bateman), the show's straight man, who strives to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. Michael is a widowed single father. His teenage son, “George Michael” (Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father's expectations and is often reluctant to follow his father's plans.
Michael's father, “George Bluth Sr.” (Jeffrey Tambor), is the patriarch of the family and a corrupt real estate developer who is arrested in the first episode. George goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family in spite of his imprisonment, and makes numerous efforts to evade justice. His wife, and Michael's mother, “Lucille Bluth” (Jessica Walter), is ruthlessly manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, as well as perpetually drinking alcohol. Her grip is tightest on her youngest son, “Byron ‘Buster’ Bluth” (Tony Hale), an over-educated (yet still under-educated) mother's boy who has dependency issues and is prone to panic attacks.
Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor in “Arrested Development”
The Fox network premiered the series on Sunday, 2 November 2003 at 9:30 PM. The show’s big competitors were “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” on NBC, the #19-rated show for the season, and the “CBS Sunday Movie,” #23 for the season. But since ratings requirements for Fox shows were lower than those for the Big Three networks, “Arrested Development” was renewed.
In its second season (2004-05), the show was moved up an hour to 8:30 PM on Sunday. There, its competition was even stronger: “Cold Case” on CBS (#14) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on ABC (#18). Still, “Arrested Development” survived to another year.
Its third season (2005-06) found the show again moving, this time to 8 PM on Sunday. Here, the show faced no competition in the top 30 shows, until midseason, when NBC moved “Deal or No Deal” (#15) into the timeslot to replace the cancelled sci-fi series “Surface.” The constant schedule moves and low ratings of “Arrested Development” finally did the show in, and it was cancelled after 53 episodes. Each season of the show had seen fewer episodes produced than the last.
Jessica Walter in “Arrested Development”
But as the subsequent years passed, “Arrested Development” found new fans on video and became somewhat of a cult show. The series had always been popular with critics, so it was not a surprise when the critical darling streaming service Netflix announced that the show would resume production with the original cast in 2013. Fifteen new episodes debuted on Netflix on May 26, 2013. Since then, new batches of episodes have appeared on May 29, 2018 (8 episodes) and March 15, 2019 (8 episodes). Jessica Walter has appeared in all 84 of the show’s episodes.
In November 2017, prior to the announcement of the fifth season, Jeffrey Tambor was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women he had worked with on the TV show “Transparent,” which led to him leaving that show. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in May 2018, Tambor apologized for the actions that led to the accusations, and mentioned one "blowup" he had with co-star Jessica Walter during production of “Arrested Development.” Walter was asked about the incident during a cast interview with The New York Times. She became emotional, stating that "in almost 60 years of working, I've never had anybody yell at me like that on a set and it's hard to deal with, but I'm over it now ... [Tambor] never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go."
Jason Bateman stated that "in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, 'difficult' ... [acting] is a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes." Tony Hale said that "we all have bad moments", while David Cross suggested that Tambor's outbursts were a "cumulative effect". The Daily Beast criticized Cross's comment as suggesting that Walter had "asked for it". Alia Shawkat came to Walter's defense, saying that being difficult "doesn't mean it's acceptable" to treat someone badly. After outlets criticized the men's statements, Hale, Bateman, and Cross issued apologies to Walter.
Jessica Walter in “Arrested Development”
In 2004, the series won the Golden Satellite Award for "Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical," along with awards for “Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical” for Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter.
In 2005, Jessica Walter was nominated for an Emmy Award as “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.” She lost the award to Doris Roberts for “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
“Retired at 35” is a television sitcom that follows a successful New Yorker named “David Robbins” (Johnathan McClain), who decides to leave the rat race and his job in the big city and visit his father “Alan” (George Segal) and mother “Elaine” (Jessica Walter) who live in a retirement community in Florida. Hoping to reconnect with them and re-evaluate his life, he makes a snap decision to quit his job and take some time to live the dream of retirement that so many are working toward. But he soon finds, to his surprise, that his parents are in the final stages of separating.
George Segal and Jessica Walter in “Retired at 35”
This show ran for two 10-episode seasons on the TV Land network in 2011 and 2012. It was only the network's second original scripted series after “Hot in Cleveland,” and its first to be cancelled.
George Segal and Jessica Walter died only one day apart: Segal on March 23, 2021 and Walter on March 24, 2021.
Jessica Walter’s last major work had been voicing a character on the animated series “Archer”. The show follows the exploits of a dysfunctional intelligence agency, led by “Sterling Archer” (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) and seven of his colleagues—his mother “Malory Archer” (Jessica Walter), “Lana Kane” (Aisha Tyler), “Cyril Figgis” (Chris Parnell), “Cheryl Tunt” (Judy Greer), “Pam Poovey” (Amber Nash), “Ray Gillette” (series creator Adam Reed) and “Dr. Algernop Krieger” (Lucky Yates). In the show, covert black ops and espionage often take a back seat to zany personalities and relationships between secret agents and drones.
Aisha Tyler and Jessica Walter in “Archer”
Walter’s character, Malory Archer, is the retired agent-turned-Agency director and Sterling's snarky, emotionally distant mother. Walter was the first significant casting choice on “Archer.” Producers contracted her shortly after they sent out character descriptions to talent agencies, and they promoted her involvement to recruit actors for the project. Walter received nominations for two Annie Awards for “Voice Acting in a Television Production.”
Jessica Walter in “Archer”
“Archer”'s history is distinguished by continual reinvention, evolving from the standard setup of a workplace sitcom mocking spy films to an anthology with self-contained mythologies. The show returned to its spy parody roots after its tenth season. The show premiered in 2009 and aired on the FX channel for its first seven seasons. It has aired of the FXX network since then. The show will enter its 12th season in 2021. Through Season 11, Jessica Walter appeared in all 119 episodes.