Richard Gilliland, Actor on ‘Designing Women,’ Dies at 71
Richard Gilliland, an actor known for his role on “Designing Women,” has died. He was 71.
The actor died on March 18 in Los Angeles following a brief illness. He was slated to work alongside his wife, Jean Smart, this summer in a movie directed by Tate Taylor.
The couple first met while on the set of CBS sitcom “Designing Women,” in which Smart played Charlene Frazier, the office manager of Atlanta interior design firm Sugarbaker & Associates, and Gilliland portrayed J.D. Shackelford, boyfriend of the firm’s head designer, Mary Jo Shively. Married for nearly 34 years, they acted together in a number of productions, including “It Had to Be You,” “Love Letters,” “24,” “Just My Imagination” and “Audrey’s Rain.”
Gilliland was born Jan. 23, 1950 in Fort Worth, Texas. Before moving to Los Angeles, he attended the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University and played Jesus in a year-long run of the musical “Godspell” opposite Joe Mantegna’s Judas.
After arriving in Hollywood, Richard’s career was nonstop until his final role last year in the science fiction thriller “Case 347.” He was a series regular in “Operation Petticoat,” “McMillan,” and “Heartland” and guest starred in “Criminal Minds,” “Dexter,” “Becker,” “Scandal,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “The Practice” and “Crossing Jordan.” His film credits include “Airplane II: The Sequel,” “Home Room,” “Dog Watch,” “Vampire Clan,” “The Empath,” “BUG” and “Star Kid,” among others.
Richard is survived by his wife, their children Connor Gilliland and Bonnie Gilliland, sisters Ann Norberg and Wendy Knaack and his brother John Wells. Donations may be made to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.
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