Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Women We Love: Jean Smart

This is the second in a four-part salute to the Designing Women We Love, the first season of which finally makes its DVD debutMay 26:

Object of our affection: Jean Smart, actress.

- Following guest stints on such series as The Facts of Life, Alice and Remington Steele, she hit it big as the big-hearted "donkey girl scout" Charlene Frazier on Designing Women. The series brought her not only a loyal fan base, but also a husband: she is married to Richard Gilliland, who played J.D. Shackelford, the boyfriend of Annie Potts' Mary Jo Shively.

- After leaving Sugarbaker's following its fifth season, she went on to star in several TV movies (most memorably as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story) and the short-lived Ab Fab-esque sitcom High Society.

- On the big screen, she has had small but memorable roles in The Brady Bunch Movie and Garden State, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Guinevere. Her other films include The Odd Couple II, Sweet Home Alabama and Bringing Down the House.

- She made her Broadway debut portraying Marlene Dietrich in Piaf and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner; both plays were filmed for television.

- Her award success finally came when she returned to television, first with two Emmy wins in a row for her recurring role on Frasier, then two more Emmy nominations for her dramatic turn as the First Lady of the United States on 24. A third Emmy came her way just last year for her hilarious performance as Christina Applegate's mom in Samantha Who?

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