ACTOR Richard Gilliland, the longtime husband of Designing Women star Jean Smart, has died at the age of 71.

Gilliland passed away on March 18 in Los Angeles, according to USA Today.

Jean Smart and Richard Gilliland


Jean Smart and Richard GillilandCredit: Getty

Who was Jean Smart’s husband Richard Gilliland?

Richard Gilliland was an accomplished actor who appeared in dozens of television series and movies.

Gilliland married Smart in 1987 after meeting on the set of the hit CBS sitcom Designing Women.

He appeared in 14 episodes as J.D. Shackleford, the love interest of Mary Jo (played by Annie Potts).

Smart played Charlene Frazier Stillfield for 120 episodes on the series, which is considered a cult favorite by many.

Richard Gilliland passed away in March of 2021


Richard Gilliland passed away in March of 2021Credit: Getty

“I met him when he was kissing someone else,” Smart told EW in 2017.

She would ask co-star Delta Burke to find out if Gilliland was married.

“Naturally, Delta walked up to him and blurted, ‘Jean wants to know if you’re married,'” Smart told Northwest Prime Time.

Gilliland and Smart were on stage together in theater productions, and both appeared together in the long-running action series 24.

He spoke of transitioning from stage to sitcom work in a 2012 interview.

The couple in the early 1990s


The couple in the early 1990sCredit: Getty

“There was a conflict in the sense that I considered myself a very serious actor,” he said.

“I approached the sitcom realm the same way I would’ve approached a play.

“I remember a network executive once saying to me, ‘This isn’t real. It’s television.’ Because he thought I was taking it too seriously, and he had a good point.”

The couple share two children – Connor and Bonnie.

What was the cause of death?

Gilliland died after a brief illness, according to USA Today.

Donations in his name can be made to the M.I.T. Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, according to People.

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