Jean E. Smart (born September 13, 1951) is an American film, television, and stage actress. She is known for her comedic roles, one of the best known being her role as Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the CBS sitcom Designing Women. She later gained critical acclaim for dramatic work, with her portrayal of Martha Logan on 24. Smart recently appeared as Regina Newly on the ABC sitcom Samantha Who? from 2007 to 2009, another comedic role which garnered the actress an Emmy Award in 2008, and was cast as Hawaii Governor Pat Jameson in the first season of the CBS-TV remake of Hawaii Five-0.
Smart was born in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of Kay and Douglas Smart, a teacher. The second of four children, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was thirteen. She is a 1969 graduate of Ballard High School, located in Seattle; it was there that she gained an interest in acting in the drama program. She graduated from the University of Washington Professional Actors Training Program with a BFA. Smart is a member of the University of Washington chapter of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
After graduating from college, Smart began her career appearing in regional theater while still living in Seattle (Seattle Repertory Theater, Ashland Shakespeare festival, etc.). She moved to NYC in the mid 1970's with college friend and fellow actress, Elizabeth Wingate (Lavery), and began working in Off-Broadway productions almost immediately. Before long she made her Broadway debut portraying Marlene Dietrich in the 1981 play Piaf, a role which she would later reprise for the 1984 television version. Also in 1981, Smart was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove.