Jean Smart is a native of Seattle, Washington. She received her BA in fine arts from the University of Washington. Her first professional job was in 1975 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she performed in Much Ado About Nothing, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.
Jean also spent several years doing regional theater with the Hartford Stage Company, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Alaska Repertory Theatre and Alliance Theatre.
After moving to New York City, Jean appeared on Broadway in Piaf and in the off-Broadway play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove --- winning her a Drama Desk Award.
The taping of Piaf for PBS brought Jean to Hollywood where she remained to star as a regular on the series For Teachers Only, Maximum Security and Reggie. She also made guest appearances on the series Remington Steele, Alice, The Facts of Life, Goodnight Beantown and CPT's Lime Street before moving on to play Charlene Frazier in the immensely popular Designing Women for five seasons. Feature film credits include Joyride, Project X, Protocol, Flashpoint, The Brady Bunch Movie, and The Odd Couple II.
Jean and Husband Richard Gilliland (who played the recurring role of Mary Jo Shively's boyfriend J.D. Shackleford on Designing Women) also hosted a video called Baby Talk guiding new parents through all the aspects of new baby care.
Since Designing Women, Jean has had lead roles in two more series: In High Society, Jean played neurotic novelist Ellie Walker opposite Mary McDonnell in an Americanized version of the British phenomenon Absolutely Fabulous. In 1998, she returned in Style and Substance with Nancy McKeon where she portrayed Chelsea Stevens, an exaggerated Martha Stewart type character.
When not spending time with her son Connor, Jean continues to appear in film and on television. She received two consecutive Emmy Awards for her acclaimed guest appearances on the series Frasier in 2000 and 2001, plus appeared in two feature films, Snow Day and The Kid. In addition, she enjoyed a successful 2000 Broadway run with Nathan Lane in The Man Who Came To Dinner, for which see was nominated for a Tony Award.
Following her Broadway stint, Jean had supporting roles in the films Sweet Home Alabama and Bringing Down the House, and starred in the short-lived comedies In-Laws and Center of the Universe.
In 2003, Jean appeared opposite Richard in the Hallmark original movie, Audrey's Rain, which premiered on the Hallmark Channel on Mother's Day. She also nabbed the lead in Killer Instinct: The Files of Agent Candice DeLong, a LIFETIME original movie inspired by DeLong's harrowing real-life experiences in the field, and she continued to enjoy her Emmy-nominated recurring role on the CBS hit show The District.
Smart joined the cast of 24 in 2006 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 role as Samantha's overbearing mother in the sitcom Samantha Who?, which she played from 2007 to 2009.
In 2009, Jean and Richard expanded their family by adopting a baby girl from China, whom they named Bonnie Kathleen.
Jean also appeared in a recurring capacity as Hawaii Gov. Pat Jameson in the CBS-TV remake of Hawaii Five-0.
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