Jessica Walter’s father was Toscanini’s bass

Jessica Walter’s father was Toscanini’s bass


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2021

It’s good to hae antecedents.

We learned today that the actress, who has died at 80, came from good stock.

Walter was the Brooklyn-born, Queens-raised daughter of a Soviet immigrant mother who was a teacher and a father who played bass in the NBC Symphony Orchestra.


  • qwerty1234 says:

    David Walter was one of the great double bass pedagogues of that generation and taught countless successful students Juilliard and MSM (perhaps Mannes, as well?), in addition to many arrangements and compositions for raising the level of the bass as a solo instrument.

    Rest Well, Jessica. Arrested Development is one of the best comedy shows of all time!

    • NYMike says:

      Sitting just ahead of Dave in the back of the Symphony of the Air’s violin section, I had the pleasure of hearing him play violin concertos on his bass during rehearsal breaks. He had a wicked sense of humor.

    • NYMike says:

      Sitting in the back of Symphony of the Air’s violin section directly in front of Dave Walter, I got to hear his wisecracks and his noodling of violin concertos when rehearsals were momentarily interrupted by conductor’s instructions. He was a master at both.

    • Tanya Tintner says:

      David Walter also spent several summers coaching the bass section of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in the 1970s/80s, where he was loved and respected. He gave a talk one evening on his time with Toscanini, making clear his love, adoration and respect for the conductor while not glossing over – in spite of – the rages.

  • George says:

    A rather unlucky position given this now famous video of Toscanini viciously lampooning the bass section (presumably of NBC)

  • henry williams says:

    she was great in the films grand prix. and play misty for me.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Jessica, a truly beautiful woman, was hilariously funny in “Arrested Development”. She was a talented dramatic actress, too, with lead roles in major films.
    Farewell, lovely lady.

  • FrankUSA says:

    I hope her father was not one of the targets of this infamous Toscanini tantrums. Those were the good ole’ days.

  • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

    So he was probably there when Toscanini so famously and violently berated the bass section that one (?) time

  • Chris says:

    I wonder how much her father said about playing under him. Toscanini was famously brutal to all but especially to the bass section:

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I remember Jessica from “Play Misty for Me”. A terrifying film which actually put me off that actress forever.

    Rest in peace.

  • Her father played the bass?
    That home was a fine place.
    Sad to learn of her departure.
    I knew her first from “Archer.”

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    She refers to her father being a ‘bass violinist’ in a TV interview 2 years ago. Can somebody explain that please?