Richard Gilliland, Designing Women And Dexter Actor, Dies At 71

Actor Richard Gilliland, who starred in the CBS sitcom Designing Women alongside his future wife Jean Smart, passed away at the age of 71 on March 18th in Los Angeles, according to a publicist. Gilliland was also known for series '80s shows such as Just Our Luck and Heartland, as well as appearing in popular series like Criminal Minds, Dexter, Desperate Housewives, and Party of Five. He also appeared alongside his late wife Smart on the FOX action series 24, as well as numerous stage productions.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Gilliland first became active on screen in the '70s. He met his wife Smart while appearing in a recurring role on Designing Women as the on-screen boyfriend of Annie Potts' character. The two married in 1987.

richard gilliland jean smart
(Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

Smart and Gilliland were meant to appear together in the upcoming film Breaking News in Yuba County. While no specific cause of death was provided, a press release stated that Gilliland passed after suffering from a "brief illness."


Gilliland is survived by Smart, their two children Connor and Bonnie, his sisters Ann and Wendy and his brother John. According to PEOPLE, donations can be made in his name to the M.I.T. Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.