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Jean Smart Honors Late Husband Richard Gilliland in Emotional Emmys Speech 6 Months After His Death

·2-min read
Jean Smart
Jean Smart

Jean Smart honored her late husband during her big win.

The 70-year-old actress received the award for outstanding lead actress in comedy series at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday for her role in HBO Max's Hacks. (She was also nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or a movie for The Mare of Easttown.)

After a standing ovation, Smart got emotional and remembered her late husband, actor Richard Gilliland, who died in March at age 71.

"Before I say anything else, I have to acknowledge my late husband Richard Gilliland, who passed away six months yesterday. I would not be here without him, without his sort of putting his career on the back burner so that I could take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that I've had."

Smart also thanked her kids Connor, 31, and Forrest, who turns 13 this year. Forrest joined the actress on the red carpet.

Also nominated in this category were Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant), Allison Janney (Mom), Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish) and Aidy Bryant (Shrill) at Sunday's ceremony.

In Hacks, Smart plays comedy legend Deborah Vance, a diva trying to maintain her relevance at the Las Vegas casino where she performs. To help freshen up her act, she hires joke writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder).

Smart teared up in the press room when talking about her win: "It was very moving. I didn't expect that. To have your peers' respect is huge. It's meant a lot because it's been such a difficult last six months so this has been something that has been kind of a strange counterpoint but it's been very much appreciated."

She added her husband "would be very happy for me."

RELATED: Comedian Hannah Einbinder on Her Stand-Up Career, Starring in Hacks with Jean Smart and More

jean smart son
jean smart son

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Smart previously got emotional over the series and her role in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

"This show has everything I could possibly want: the character is not really like any character I've played before, but she's got bits and pieces of some of my very, very favorite roles I've embodied in this one eccentric, bizarre [woman]," she told the outlet.

When asked about potentially getting her fourth Emmy win, the star avoided discussing it, lest she get "jinxed." She said, "I don't wanna talk about it. Whenever people talk about it they get jinxed."

The 73rd Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, are airing live from 8-11 p.m. ET on CBS.

Catch PEOPLE (the TV show!) Monday through Friday on select TV stations (check your local listings for exact times). You can also stream the show daily at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT on and

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