At 71 years old, Jean Smart has had a long and prosperous acting career that she doesn’t seem to be backing away from any time soon. However, she’s revealed that a heart procedure she recently underwent has slowed down her current project. Having lost her husband of more than 30 years, Richard Gilliland, unexpectedly in 2021 as the result of a heart condition, she is urging fans to keep an eye on their heart health.
Smart opened up about her procedure on social media
Smart took to Instagram to reveal that she recently had a “successful heart procedure” and is currently in the recovery stage. Although she originally kept it a secret, she decided to come forward about her experience as it’s currently American Heart Month.
“February is American Heart Month — a time when the nation spotlights heart health, so it feels important to share with all of you that I’m recovering from a recent, successful heart procedure,” she wrote. “I am fortunate to have excellent professional care and support from family and friends while I continue to recuperate.” Smart has provided little more information as to the procedure but has urged her followers to listen to their doctors about heart health. “Please listen to your body and talk to your doctor — I’m very glad I did,” she wrote.
As she continues to recover, some departments of the comedy-drama television show she currently stars in, Hacks (2021), have been put on pause, slowing production. HBO Max and Universal TV have released a statement wishing Smart well. “We are so happy that our beloved Jean Smart’s heart procedure was successful and she’s on the mend. HBO Max and UTV send their well wishes,” they said.
She has shared other health concerns publicly before
While Smart has kept many details of her most recent procedure private, this isn’t the first time she has revealed elements of her health to the public before. At age 13, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and has been an active ambassador trying to increase awareness of the condition. She even suggested that her diabetes indirectly sparked her acting career.
“My mother insisted that I stay in Seattle for college. I had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was thirteen, and she still hadn’t gotten over that by the time I was getting ready to graduate high school. She was afraid, I think, for me to go out of state to school,” she explained in a 2021 interview. Smart then made the decision to go to the University of Washington, where she attended the “phenomenal theatre program” there. “So I have my mother and my diabetes to thank,” she joked.
Smart has had a long and fruitful acting career
With over 40 years of acting under her belt, it seems unlikely that this heart procedure is going to slow her down for long. She began her acting career on stage, not on screen, making her Broadway debut playing Marlene Dietrich in Piaf in 1981. The taping of the performance sparked major Hollywood interest, and she soon made the move to acting in a number of television series and films.
One of her most notable characters was on the 1980s sitcom Designing Women. Smart played the naive secretary Charlene Frazier. She stayed with the series for several years before leaving the show in 1991 to expand her horizons, increase her versatility as an actor, and take on more challenging roles.
She saw most of her versatility in movies. She played the serial killer in Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story (1992), a mentally challenged woman in The Yarn Princess (1994), and a variety of other characters in films like The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Garden State (2004), I Heart Huckabees (2004), Youth in Revolt (2009), The Accountant (2016), A Simple Favor (2018), and Babylon (2022).
Smart has earned multiple awards throughout her acting career, including a Tony, two Primetime Emmy awards for her work on Frasier, and a total of 11 Emmy nominations throughout her career. She won the Critics’ Choice Television Award twice for Fargo (2015), and Watchmen (2020), and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her role in Guinevere (1999).