Jean Smart Emotionally Dedicates Best Actress Comedy Emmy Win to Late Husband

The 2021 Emmy Awards air Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+.

More than 20 years after her first award, Jean Smart is an Emmy winner once again!

The actress won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on Sunday for her role as aging Las Vegas standup performer Deborah Vance on the HBO series Hacks

Smart got a standing ovation for her Emmy win, and she held back tears as she dedicated her award to her late husband, Richard Gilliland. Gilliland died in March after a brief illness. He was 71 years old.

"Before I say anything else, I have to acknowledge my late husband who passed away six months ago yesterday," she said. "I would not be here without him, and without his kind of putting his career on the back burner so I could take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that I have had. And my two incredible children, Conner and Forrest, who are both very courageous individuals in their own right and put up with Mommy commuting from Philadelphia and back. But Hacks has been such a thrill. I can't even tell you."

"Thank you all, everybody, and working through a pandemic, you are all so creative and brave and wonderful and I love you all and thank you all very much," she concluded.

The win marks Smart's fourth Emmy, however, it's her first in a leading category. The 70-year-old actress won back-to-back Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000 and 2001 for playing Lana Gardner on Frasier, and was awarded Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2008 for her role as Regina Newley on Samantha Who?.

Smart has had a career resurgence in recent years while exploring more dramatic material on Dirty JohnFargoLegion, and Watchmen, as well as Mare of Easttown, for which she was also nominated this year. However, when it came to Hacks, Smart told ET earlier this year that the show “ticked every box.” 

"I mean, if someone has said, ‘OK, now at this stage of the game, write down your ideal situation for a show,’ it had everything, which is the character, the writing, just everything about it," the actress shared. "I just thought it was so unique and so original and so funny and very moving and I’m home every night for dinner."

The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, aired live Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+. In the meantime, stay tuned to for complete Emmys coverage.



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