Jean Elizabeth Smart (born September 13, 1951) is an American film, television and stage actress. She starred from 1986 to 1991 as Charlene Frazier Stillfield in the CBS sitcom Designing Women, before going on to win two Emmy Awards for her role as Lana Gardener in the NBC sitcom Frasier (2000â"01), and a third Emmy for playing Regina Newley in ABC's Samantha Who? (2007â"09).
Smart began her career in regional theatre in Seattle and played Lady Macbeth at the Pittsburgh theatre in 1980. She made her Broadway debut in the 1981 production of Piaf, playing Marlene Dietrich. The same year, she received a Drama Desk Award nomination for the Off-Broadway play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove. In 1992, she played the title role in the TV movie Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story. In 2000, she starred in the Broadway revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner, which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Her other TV roles include Sherry Regan in The District (2000â"04), Martha Logan in 24 (2006â"07), and Roseanna Remmick in Harry's Law (2011â"12). Her film appearances include The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), The Odd Couple II (1998), Sweet Home Alabama (2002) and Bringing Down the House (2003).
Smart was born in Seattle, Washington, 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 was there that she gained an interest in acting in the drama program. She graduated from the University of Washington Professional Actors Training Program with a BFA. Smart is a member of the University of Washington chapter of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
After graduating from college, Smart began her career appearing in regional theater while still living in Seattle (Seattle Repertory Theater, Ashland (Oregon) Shakespeare festival, etc.). She moved to NYC in the mid 1970s with college friend and fellow actress, Elizabeth Wingate (Lavery), and began working in Off-Broadway and professional regional productions almost immediately. In 1980 she appeared as Lady Macbeth at the Pittsburgh Public Theater opposite Tom Atkins as Macbeth and Keith Fowler as Macduff. She made her Broadway 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.
She 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 leaving Designing Women, 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 miniseries 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, which lasted only 13 episodes. In 1998, Smart co-starred with Nancy McKeon in another short-lived CBS sitcom, Style & Substance. Other roles during the 1990s included 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 Lorna Lynley (later renamed 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. Soon after she 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.
From 2002 to 2007 she voiced Dr. Ann Possible in Kim Possible, and in 2004, she was cast in a lead role in the short-lived Center of the Universe.
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. 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 portraying Samantha's overbearing mother in the sitcom Samantha Who?, which she played from 2007 to 2009. She later was cast as Hawaii Governor Pat Jameson during the first season of the CBS-TV remake of Hawaii Five-0.
In 2012, Smart was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Harry's Law.
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 Shively). They have a son, Connor Douglas (born 1989) and a daughter, Bonnie Kathleen (adopted as a baby from China in May 2009). Gilliland played Captain Stan Cotter on 24 while Smart later played First Lady Martha Logan on the same series.
- Jean Smart at the Internet Movie Database
- Jean Smart at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jean Smart at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Jean Smart at AllMovie
- Official Jean Smart website