“Designing Women: ”From Delta Burke to Annie Potts and More, See Where the Stars of the '80s Sitcom Are Today

'Designing Women' made stars of its female-led cast in the 1980s

<p>CBS via Getty </p> The cast of

CBS via Getty

The cast of 'Designing Women'

It's been nearly 40 years since the Sugarbaker & Associates team first hit television screens.

Designing Women, which aired from 1986-1993, followed sisters Suzanne Sugarbaker (Delta Burke_) and Julia Sugarbaker, (Dixie Carter) who open and run their own design firm in Atlanta, Georgia, and are joined by pals Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts), Charlene Frazier-Stillfield (Jean Smart) and delivery man-turned-partner Anthony Bouvier (Mesach Taylor).

Here's where the stars are now — and what they've been up to in the decades since the hit CBS show went off the air.

Delta Burke

<p>CBS via Getty Images; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images</p> Delta Burke

CBS via Getty Images; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Delta Burke

Before landing the the role of Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women in 1986, Delta Burke, 67, had earned several television roles starting in the late 1970s.

She recently described her 1991 exit from Designing Women — which reportedly sprung from a falling out with the show's creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who Burke claims had psychologically abused her, and her husband Harry Thomason — as "ugly and very sad." Another contributing factor to her departure from the show was "incredibly ugly" narratives that circulated at the time over her weight, Burke said.

Burke, who was nominated for two Emmy Awards for the role, would later work with Bloodworth-Thomason again on Women of the House in 1995. She also appeared as the titular character on Delta from 1992-1993. From 2000-2001 she had a recurring role on DAG and her most recent onscreen appearance came in 2019's Dolly Parton's Heartstrings. Her career has also taken her to Broadway, where she has appeared in Thoroughly Modern Millie as well as originating the role of Truvy in Steel Magnolias.

Burke has been married to actor Gerald McRaney for 34 years. The two met while she was filming Designing Women.

Dixie Carter

<p>CBS via Getty Images; Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images</p> Dixie Carter

CBS via Getty Images; Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Dixie Carter

Dixie Carter began her career in TV in the 1970s, with her first onscreen credit coming from The Edge of the Night. In 1976, she also originated the role of Melba Snyder in Broadway's Pal Joey. After starring as Julia Sugarbaker on all seven seasons of Designing Women, she played Randi King on Family Law beginning in 1999. Into the 2000s, Carter appeared in Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie and later on several episodes of Desperate Housewives, in a role that earned her an Emmy nomination, before her final role in 2009's That Evening Sun, which she appeared in alongside her husband, actor Hal Holbrook.

Carter died in 2010 at 70 years old.

Annie Potts

<p>CBS via Getty Images; Amanda Edwards/FilmMagic</p> Annie Potts

CBS via Getty Images; Amanda Edwards/FilmMagic

Annie Potts

During her tenure as Mary Jo Shively on Designing Women's seven-season run, Annie Potts, 71, also landed several film roles in iconic movies, including Pretty in Pink, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Ghostbusters II (after starring in the first film in 1984.)

After Designing Women, Potts landed a role on Love & War in 1993 and in 1995 lent her voice to Toy Story as Bo Peep — a role she would reprise many more times. In 1988, she began her starring role on the series Any Day Now opposite Lorraine Toussaint.

More recently, Potts' resume has remained full with roles on Law & Order: SVU, GCB, Chicago Med, The Fosters and in films like 2016's Ghostbusters and 2024's Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. She also has made Broadway appearances in God of Carnage in 2009 and Pippin in 2014.

In 2017 she kicked off her one her longest running roles to date — second only to Designing Women — as Meemaw on Young Sheldon.

Potts married husband James Hayman in 1990, and they later welcomed two children together. Potts is also mom to son Clay Senechal, whom she shares with ex-husband B. Scott Senechal.

Jean Smart

<p>CBS via Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/WireImage</p> Jean Smart

CBS via Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/WireImage

Jean Smart

Jean Smart , 72, starred as Charlene Frazier-Stillfield on Designing Women until 1991. Before landing the role on the hit show, she had already established herself in Hollywood booking roles on TV, film and on Broadway in 1981's Piaf.

In 1993, she lent her voice to the Pink Panther series and later appeared on High Society, Style and Substance, In-Laws, 24, Samantha Who and more voiceover work on the Disney Channel series Kim Possible — to name a few. She also appeared on the big screen in films like Garden State, The Accountant and Babylon.

Most recently, Smart won an Emmy for her role in the Max comedy series Hacks.

After nearly 34 years of marriage, Smart's husband Richard Gilliland died in 2021 at the age of 71. The pair met on the set of Designing Women and wed at Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook's home. The couple shared two children together, Forrest and Connor.

Meshach Taylor

<p>CBS via Getty Images; Ryan Miller/Getty Images</p> Meshach Taylor

CBS via Getty Images; Ryan Miller/Getty Images

Meshach Taylor

Meshach Taylor had already landed several roles — on the big screen, TV and on stage — when he began his time as Anthony Bouvier on all seven seasons of Designing Women. While appearing on the show, he also starred in Mannequin and and Mannequin: On the Move. The same year the series came to an end, Taylor was already jumping into his next big role as Shel Baylor on Dave's World. He later had a recurring role on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and even a one-off role on Hannah Montana.

His last onscreen credit came in 2014 on Criminal Minds, per IMDB, the same year the actor died at the age of 67.

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