Jean Smart won her third Emmy Award in 2008 for playing Regina Newly, mother of Samantha “Sam” Newly (Christina Applegate), on ABC’s comedy “Samantha Who.” After claiming her trophy from presenter Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Smart proclaimed at the podium, “Thank you so much. I just wanted to let you know I have a tuxedo on under this dress, but I’m not ripping it off.” She was referring to an earlier skit in the ceremony in which Heidi Klum, one-fifth of the year’s reality TV Emmy hosts, had her breakaway tuxedo removed by Tom Bergeron and William Shatner, revealing a dress underneath. Watch Smart’s Emmy flashback video above.
Smart took down co-nominees Kristin Chenoweth (“Pushing Daisies”), Amy Poehler (“Saturday Night Live”), Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”) and Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty”) to win the statuette for Best Comedy Supporting Actress. It was her third career Emmy after previously winning twice for guest-starring on “Frasier” in 2000 and 2001.
SEE What to watch: Emmy contenders for 2021
This year, Smart could very well become a four-time Emmy champ thanks to her leading role on HBO Max’s streaming hit “Hacks.” She plays Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas stand-up comedian whose career is stalling, so her agent tasks an up-and-coming writer (Hannah Einbinder) to help rekindle her old material. “Hacks” gives Smart a chance to really sink her teeth into a complex, three-dimensional character, as Deborah is a selfish diva on the outside, but with a beating heart on the inside. Watch our recent video interview with Smart.
According to Gold Derby Emmy predictions, Smart will face tough competition in Best Comedy Actress from Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Jane Levy (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”), Allison Janney (“Mom”) and Maya Erskine (“PEN15”). The great news for all of these leading ladies is that last year’s winner Catherine O’Hara is no longer eligible since “Schitt’s Creek” has ended.
“The answer to the question ‘Samantha Who?” is Christina Applegate,” Smart said during her Emmy acceptance speech. “I adore her and she sets the tone for the most amazing, brilliant, hilarious cast in the world.” She also thanked her show’s creative team and family, and ended by noting, “I’m very proud to be an actor.”
Smart’s role as Regina Newly on “Samantha Who” followed a unique Emmy trend of overbearing mothers with acerbic tongues claiming victory in the supporting comedy category. Others are Estelle Getty (“The Golden Girls “), Christine Baranski (“Cybill”), Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”) and Janney (“Mom”).
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