Smart, Jean Biography

biography of Smart, Jean

Jean E. Smart
13 September 1951, Seattle, Washington, USA
5' 10"
Blonde, buxom and noticeably tall Seattle native Jean Smart was born on September 13, 1951. Not your average-looking ingénue, she earned her stardom taking another route. Attending the University of Washington after high school, she received her BA degree in fine arts. Her first professional season was with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she performed in "Much Ado About Nothing," among others. During this time she built up a strong resumé in regional theater with such companies as the Hartford Stage Company, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Alaska Repertory Theatre and Alliance Theatre. Her first significant break came with a starring role in the potent, critically-acclaimed lesbian drama "Last Summer at Bluefish Cove," which earned her an Off-Broadway Drama Desk nomination in 1980. She capped this honor with a Los Angeles Drama Critics award in 1983 when she repeated her triumph on the West Coast. Jean made an auspicious Broadway debut in 1981 playing 'Marlene Dietrich' (qv) in "Piaf", and it was the subsequent TV taping of that show that brought about Hollywood interest. She struggled for a time in unsuccessful sitcoms (_"Teachers Only" (1982)_ (qv), _"Reggie" (1983)_ (qv) and _"Maximum Security" (1984)_ (qv)) before hitting gold as the feather-brained Charlene Frazier on _"Designing Women" (1986)_ (qv). She met future husband 'Richard Gilliland' (qv) on the set of the hit show; he played the recurring role of 'Annie Potts' (qv)' boyfriend for a few seasons. Jean and Richard's son Connor was born in 1989. Feeling confined and typecast in light material, Jean left the show in 1991 to branch out and drew major acclaim in such made-for-TV movies as _Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story (1992) (TV)_ (qv). She gave a chilling portrayal as the well-known serial killer more than a decade before 'Charlize Theron' (qv) copped an Oscar for her cinematic version. On the other side of the coin, Jean offered gentle, heartfelt performances in such TV films as _The Yarn Princess (1994) (TV)_ (qv), in which she played a mentally disabled mom, and the TV remake of _The Yearling (1994) (TV)_ (qv), allowing audiences to rediscover her amazing versatility. On stage she earned a Tony nomination for her delightfully madcap part in the Broadway farce "The Man Who Came to Dinner" opposite 'Nathan Lane (I)' (qv), and on TV won bookend Emmy awards for her guest appearances on the sitcom _"Frasier" (1993)_ (qv). Films would never be a reliable venue for Jean, who made her big-screen debut in _Flashpoint (1984)_ (qv). She did, however, receive an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her part in _Guinevere (1999)_ (qv). Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 13, Jean has played an active part over the years in public awareness.
Gary Brumburgh /

-   'Richard Gilliland' (qv) (7 June 1987 - present); 2 children

-   Often portrays divorcees who are libertarian and free-willed (Youth in Revolt, Barry Munday)

-   Appeared in original cast of the Broadway show, "Piaf," 1979. Also appeared at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, same year.

-   Left _"Designing Women" (1986)_ (qv) in 1991 to pursue other projects and to focus on her family.

-   She is the 2nd of 4 children. Her parents were a teacher and a homemaker.

-   At age 13, Jean was diagnosed with diabetes. Originally planned to be a veterinarian, but got interested in theater during her senior year in high school. Studied theater at the University of Washington.

-   Met her husband when he guest-starred on _"Designing Women" (1986)_ (qv). 'Delta Burke' (qv) arranged for the two to meet.

-   Is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

-   Graduated from Ballard High School in Seattle, Washington, in 1969.

-   Was married to 'Richard Gilliland' (qv) in _"Designing Women" (1986)_ (qv) co-star 'Dixie Carter (I)' (qv)'s rose garden.

-   Gave birth to her 1st child at age 38, a son Connor Douglas Gilliland on October 25, 1989. Child's father is her husband, 'Richard Gilliland' (qv).

-   Became a mother for the second time, at age 57, when she adopted her daughter, Bonnie Kathleen Gilliland (b.July 2008) in May 2009. Child's father is her husband, 'Richard Gilliland' (qv).

-   Stage: Appeared in "Last Summer at Bluefish Cove", off-Broadway.

-   (10/00) Stage: Appeared in "The Man Who Came to Dinner" on Broadway (revival). NOTE: Nominatd for Tony Award for Best Actress-Play.

-   (7/05) Appeared as "Mrs. Erlynne" in 'Oscar Wilde' (qv)'s play, "Lady Windemere's Fan", at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

-   (1983) Stage: Appeared in "Last Summer at Blufish Cove", Los Angeles, CA. NOTE: Won Los Angeles Drama Critics Circl Award for Best Lead Performance.

-   (1979) Stage: Appeared in "Piaf", Alliance Theater, Atlanta, GA.

-   (1979) Stage: Appeared in "Piaf" on Broadway (original production).

-   "Entertainment Weekly" (USA), 17 December 2004, Vol. 1, Iss. 797, pg. 71, by: Nicholas Fonseca, "Smart and Soul"

-   "Parade" (USA), 25 January 2009, pg. 18, by: James Brady, "In Step With: Jean Smart"

-   "The New York Times" (USA), 8 June 2008, Vol. 157, Iss. 54,335, pg. MT4, by: Gina Bellafante, "Roles of the Season, Maybe a Lifetime: Jean Smart 'Samantha Who?'"

-   "TV Guide" (USA), 12 November 2007, Vol. 55, Iss. 46, pg. 68, by: Damian Holbrook, "Scene Stealer: Jean Smart"

-   "TV Guide" (USA), 13 February 2006, Vol. 54, Iss. 7, pg. 34-35, by: David Hochman, "Smart Moves"

-   "TV Guide" (USA), 21 October 2000, Vol. 48, Iss. 43, pg. 62-66, by: Joanne Kaufman, "Smart Cookie"

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