Richard Gilliland, ‘Designing Women’ actor and husband of Jean Smart, dead at 71

Richard Gilliland, 'Designing Women' actor and husband of Jean Smart, dead at 71


Richard Gilliland, an actor known for roles in “Designing Women” and “Airplane II: The Sequel,” has died.

The 71-year-old was married to Emmy-winning actress Jean Smart and suffered from a “brief illness” before passing away in Los Angeles, Calif., last week, according to a press release shared with Fox News.

Gilliland and Smart, 69, were married for nearly 34 years.

Gilliland met his future wife when they worked together on “Designing Women,” on which, he played J.D. Shackelford, a baseball talent scout and the boyfriend of Annie Pott’s Mary Jo Shively.

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He appeared in only 14 episodes of the show, according to IMDb, but his appearances were spread across the show’s first five seasons.

Actor Richard Gilliland, husband of Jean Smart, has died at the age of 71. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Smart famously played Charlene Frazier Stillfield for six of the show’s seven seasons.

They’d work together again several more times, including on the hit drama “24” in 2006 when Gilliland appeared in a single episode. Smart appeared in two seasons.

The pair also appeared together on stage and in two television movies and were slated to work together again this summer in a film directed by “The Girl on the Train” filmmaker Tate Taylor.

Richard Gilliland pictured here in 1977 for the TV series 'Operation Petticoat.' ​​​​​(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) 

Richard Gilliland pictured here in 1977 for the TV series ‘Operation Petticoat.’ ​​​​​(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) 

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The pair share two children together: Connor, 31, and Bonnie, 11.

Gilliland appeared in several high-profile television shows including “Criminal Minds,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Dexter,” “Party of Five,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Operation Petticoat” and “The Love Boat.”

His movie credits include “Airplane II: The Sequel,” “Star Kid,” “Home Room” and more.

Richard Gilliland in 'Desperate Housewives.' (Photo by Ron Tom/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Richard Gilliland in ‘Desperate Housewives.’ (Photo by Ron Tom/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

He also appeared in the touring Broadway production of “Godspell” as Jesus from 1972-1973.

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Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Gilliland attended the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.

His most recent credits include 2020’s “Case 347” and four episodes of Bravo’s “Imposters” from 2017-2018, as well as his single appearance on “Criminal Minds.”

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In addition to Smart, Conner and Bonnie, Gilliland is survived by his sisters Ann Norberg and Wendy Knaack and his brother John Wells.



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