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Jean E. Smart (born September 13, 1951) is an American film, television, and stage actress. She is known for her comedic roles, one of the best known being her role as Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the CBS sitcom Designing Women. She later gained critical acclaim for dramatic work, with her portrayal of Martha Logan on 24. Smart most recently appeared as Regina Newly on the ABC sitcom Samantha Who? from 2007 to 2009, another comedic role which garnered the actress an Emmy Award in 2008.

Life and career

Early life

Smart was born in Seattle, Washingtonmarker, the daughter of Kay and Douglas Smart, a teacher. The second of four children, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was thirteen. She is a 1969 graduate of Ballard High School, located in Seattle. It is there that she gained an interest in acting in the drama program. Smart is a member of the University of Washingtonmarker chapter of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.


After graduating from college, Smart began her career appearing in Regional theater and Off-Broadway productions during the mid 1970s. She made her Broadwaymarker debut portraying Marlene Dietrich in the 1981 play Piaf, a role which she would later reprise for the 1984 television version. Also in 1981, Smart was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove.

Smart began working in television in several smaller to mid-size guest parts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, appearing in such shows as The Facts of Life, Alice, and Remington Steele among several others. Her big break came when she was cast in the starring role of Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the comedy series Designing Women from 1986 to 1991.

After departing from Designing Women, Smart's career hit a lag during the 1990s with her work mostly concentrated within made for TV movies and smaller to mid-size roles in films. Notably she portrayed serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the TV movie Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story (1992), Ory Baxter in a television version of The Yearling (1994), Sally Brewton in the television mini-series Scarlett (1995), and Mrs. Dittmeyer in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) . In 1995 Smart landed her own series, High Society, which co-starred Mary McDonnell. The show, however, was canceled after just 13 episodes. In 1998, Smart co-starred with Nancy McKeon in another short-lived CBS sitcom, Style & Substance. Her other roles in 1990s include Dana Colby in Steve Martini's Undue Influence (1998), Holly in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple II (1998), and Deborah Sloane in Guinevere (1999) among others.

In 2000, Smart's career took a turn for the better when she landed the role of Lana Gardner on the hit show Frasier. She went on to win two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. In 2001 she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner. She soon landed roles in several high profile films including Stella Kay Perry in the film Sweet Home Alabama, Kate Sanderson in Bringing Down The House, and Carol in Garden State. She also provided the voice of the alcoholic chain-smoking Pickles Oblong on The Oblongs and played the role of Supervisor of Detectives and ex-wife to Chief Jack Mannion of the Metropolitan Police Department on The District.

In 2004 she was cast in a lead role in the short-lived Center of the Universe, her fourth CBS sitcom, this one co-starring John Goodman and Olympia Dukakis. The following year she voiced Dr. Anne Possible in Kim Possible

In January 2006, Smart joined the cast of 24 playing the mentally unstable First Lady of the United States, Martha Logan, to actor Gregory Itzin's President Charles Logan. Her work was critically praised and she received back-to-back Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama for the role in 2006 and 2007.

Smart won the 2008 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her most recent role, that of Samantha's overbearing mother in the sitcom Samantha Who?, which she played from 2007 to 2009.

Personal life

Jean Smart after her Emmys win in 2008.
Smart is married to actor Richard Gilliland, whom she met while working on the set of Designing Women (he played J.D. Shackelford, the boyfriend of Annie Potts' character, Mary Jo). They have one son, Connor. Gilliland played Captain Stan Cotter on 24 while Smart joined the cast as Martha Logan for season 5. (He was in the 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. episode.)

She has contributed to the 2008 campaigns of Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Film and television credits


  1. [1]
  2. Jean Smart Biography (1952?-)
  3. Jean Smart Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  4. [2]

External links

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