Jean Smart’s 12-Year-Old Lets Her Know When She’s Gone Viral
The Hacks star and 2021 Emmy winner is adjusting to life as a single mom following the death of her husband in March.
With starring roles in two popular HBO dramas, 70-year-old Jean Smart has had one hell of a year. In March, while Smart was filming Hacks and preparing for the first episode of Mare of Easttown to drop, Smart’s husband of 34 years died unexpectedly. In the wake of Richard Gilliland’s death, Smart has had to adjust to being a working widowed mother of two. Thankfully, her preteen helps her stay on top of her growing popularity on social media.
Smart began her acting career in the mid-1970s with a series of theatrical productions, including those put on by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But soon the small screen began calling to Smart and the Washington-born actress landed the role of Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the comedy sitcom Designing Women in 1985.
After five seasons, Smart stepped away from Designing Women and began picking up supporting roles in a number of TV and film projects that ultimately earned her high praise from Hollywood critics. Her role as Lana Gardner on NBC’s Fraiser, for example, earned her the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in both 2000 and 2001. Smart also won a 2008 Emmy for her role as Regina Newly on ABC’s Samantha Who? and garnered multiple nominations for her work in CBS’ The District, Fox’s 24, NBC’s Harry’s Law, FX’s Fargo, and HBO’s Watchmen.
Of course, Smart’s life hasn’t been all work and no play. Between roles, the actress married and raised a family.
Who Was Jean Smart’s Husband?
According to Entertainment Weekly, Smart first met the man who would later become her husband in 1986 while filming Designing Women. At the time, Gilliland was cast to play J.D. Shackelford, the boyfriend of Annie Potts' character Mary Jo Shively, leaving Smart to once joke she met her husband “when he was kissing someone else.”
Although Gilliland appeared in more than a dozen Designing Women episodes from 1986 to 1991, it didn’t take long for sparks to fly between them. The pair were reportedly married in an intimate ceremony in fellow Designing Women cast member Dixie Carter's garden in 1987, according to USA Today.
Gilliland died rather unexpectedly from a heart condition on March 18 at the age of 71. In an interview with The New Yorker, Smart remembered her husband as an unfailing source of support. “He really sacrificed his career for me to be able to take advantage of my opportunities,” she said. “I wouldn’t have all this, if it wasn’t for him.”
His death caught her off guard. “It’s not anything I ever dreamed would happen,” she said. “Not so soon. He made me laugh all the time. That’s going to be hard to live without.”
Who Is Jean Smart’s Oldest Child?
Smart and Gilliland welcomed a son they named Connor in 1989. However, not much is known about Connor, who is now in his early 30s, as he has lived most of his life outside the public eye and off social media.
Who Is Jean Smart’s Youngest Child?
Smart was accompanied to the Emmys by her youngest child, Forrest, who was “ecstatic” about her Emmys win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. “I was thrilled to share it with my youngest, and he’s ecstatic!” Smart told Entertainment Tonight. “So that was really special.”
In May 2009, Smart and Gilliland welcomed their second child together via adoption. According to The Sun, Smart and Gilliland had hoped to adopt from China in 2004, when Connor would have still been a teen, but the adoption process ultimately took significantly longer than the couple expected. “It actually took a lot longer than we expected,” The Sun reported Smart said when the adoption was finalized after five years. “We thought my son was going to be about 15 when we got the baby and he’s just turned 20.”
In the end, however, the delay didn’t bother Smart. “We wouldn't have gotten the same baby if we had gotten a baby right away,” Smart told Today.
But while Connor seemingly steers clear of social media, Forrest keeps up with all the latest social media trends — or at least the ones that involve his mom. In May, Smart told Today her preteen had let her know she was going viral and urged her to get on social media. “I don't do social media, so my 12-year-old has insisted that I open a Twitter account," she said, laughing. “I'm not so sure I’m going to do that.”
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