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


Richard Gilliland, an actor known for his 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 a “brief illness” before passing away in Los Angeles, California, 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,” in which he played JD Shackelford, a baseball scout and boyfriend of Annie Pott’s Mary Jo Shively.

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He appeared in just 14 episodes of the show, according to IMDb, but his appearances spanned the length of 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 played Charlene Frazier Stillfield for six of the show’s seven seasons.

They would work together again several more times, including on the hit drama “24” in 2006 when Gilliland appeared in only one episode. Smart appeared in two seasons.

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

Richard Gilliland photographed here in 1977 for the television series

Richard Gilliland photographed here in 1977 for the television series “Operation Petticoat”. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives / Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

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

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

His film 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 traveling Broadway production of “Godspell” as Jesus from 1972 to 1973.

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

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

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

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