Jean Smart


9/13/1951 (67 years old) Seattle, Washington, United States

Known as a versatile character actress, Smart has worked stage and screen but found the bulk of her success on television. After college graduation, she performed in regional theater before heading to Broadway and eventually landing the role of Marlene Dietrich in the play Piaf. The show was later brought her to Hollywood when it was reprised for TV and earned Smart wider exposure. The hit sitcom Designing Women jumpstarted her career in 1986 and introduced her to costar and future husband Richard Gilliland. Smart was 40 when she left the series to try her luck in movies. She was scarily convincing as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Overkill, years before Charlize Theron snagged an Oscar for playing the same part in Monster. In 2001 she was nominated for two Emmys, for a dramatic role on The District and a hilariously harsh turn on Frasier, which won her a statuette. While her movie career heated up with high-profile supporting parts in Bringing Down the House and Garden State, it was her harrowing turn as the president's emotionally unstable wife on 24 that once again had people talking. Smart devotes her free time to juvenile diabetes education (she was diagnosed herself at age 13) and the Alzheimer's Association (having lost her father to the disease).

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