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Jean Smart tears up remembering late husband in Emmys acceptance speech

Jean Smart’s husband, Richard Gilliland, died unexpectedly on March 18, 2021, of a heart condition at 71.
The 73rd Emmy Awards
Smart wipes her eyes during the Emmys on Sept. 19, 2021.Cliff Lipson / CBS via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Hollywood legend Jean Smart took home an Emmy for best actress in a comedy series for her role in "Hacks" on Sunday night.

After a standing ovation from the celebrities and Hollywood elite in attendance, Smart teared up thanking her late husband, Richard Gilliland, who died unexpectedly in March of a heart condition at the age of 71 after 34 years of marriage.

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

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In a June interview with the New Yorker, Smart opened up about losing Gilliland.

“It’s not anything I ever dreamed would happen," she said. "Not so soon. He made me laugh all the time. That’s going to be hard to live without.”

Jean Smart and Richard Gilliland arrive at the premiere of National Geographic Documentary Films' 'Jane'  at the Hollywood Bowl on October 9, 2017.
Smart and Gilliland at the premiere of National Geographic Documentary Films' "Jane" at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 9, 2017.Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

In her speech on Sunday, Smart also thanked her two "incredible, unselfish" children, Connor and Forrest.

"Both very courageous individuals in their own right and they put up with mommy commuting to Philadelphia and back," she said.

73rd Annual Emmy Awards taking place at LA Live
Jean Smart and Forrest Gilliland arrive on the red carpet on Sept. 19, 2021.Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Forrest, who is adopted, accompanied Smart to the awards ceremony on Sunday night. Earlier in the evening, the two spoke with E! News correspondent, "Queer Eye" star Karamo Brown.

"Very proud of her, she really deserves it, she worked really hard for everything,” Forrest told Brown. “Those are the moments that make us as parents cry right there,” Brown replied.

During an in-depth interview with TODAY, Smart said that she wished her husband would have been able to see “Hacks” and her other critically acclaimed, Emmy nominated show this year, “Mare of Easttown."

“I just would have liked to have shared these two shows with him,” she told TODAY in May. “I know he loved the ‘Hacks’ script. He thought they were brilliantly written, very funny, and it’s just hard not to share that with him.”