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'Designing Women' Cast: Then and Now

Designing Women told the story of four southern women in Atlanta, Georgia, working at the fictional interior design firm Sugarbakers & Associates. Running for seven seasons on CBS, viewers followed the women as they talked about how difficult it was to be women in business, experienced love and heartache and just generally embraced the meaning of being a southern lady. It also gave us some incredible '80s hairstyles.

Here's what the main cast has been up to since the show ended in 1993.

Dixie Carter

Annie Potts


Carter starred as Julia Sugarbaker, the president of Sugarbaker & Associates. She ran the company out of her beautiful house and was the epitome of southern class, always up for putting someone in their place if need be.

After the show ended, Carter went on to star in Family Law and had recurring roles on Ladies Man on CBS and Desperate Housewives on ABC. Carter passed away from endometrial cancer in 2010.

Annie Potts

Annie Potts

STRMXA and Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The sarcastic lead designer at the firm, Mary Jo Shively, was played by the incomparable Annie Potts. While the Nashville native has had a solid film career with lots of memorable characters including Janine Melnitz in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, Iona in Pretty In Pink, Helen Downing in Who's Harry Crumb? and Liz Carlson in Jumpin' Jack Flash. Potts has also been the voice of Woody's love interest, Bo Peep, in Disney's Toy Story Pixar franchise, in Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 4

Following Designing Women, Potts went on to star in Love & War, Dangerous Minds and Any Day Now. She has also appeared in GCB, The Fosters, Ugly Betty, Hallmark film The Music Teacher, Two and a Half Men, NCIS: New Orleans, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Boston Legal, Chicago Med, Major Crimes, and Joan of Arcadia. She is currently starring as Meemaw on the CBS sitcom Young Sheldon.

Jean Smart

Annie Potts

ASSOCIATED PRESS and Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Smart played the sweet but naive and ditzy office manager from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Charlene Frazier-Stillfield. The TV show was Smart's first big break in the biz and she has gone on to have an incredible career. She was nominated for a Tony Award after starring in the Broadway production of The Man Who Came to Dinner. She's appeared in numerous romantic comedy films like Life As We Know It, Youth in Revolt and Sweet Home Alabama

Smart won an Emmy Award for her role in Samantha Who? as well as Critics' Choice Television Awards for her roles in Fargo and Watchmen.

As of May 2021, Smart appears in two popular HBO series: comedy series Hacks and the Kate Winslet crime drama Mare of Easttown.

Read More: Carol Burnett's 'Gone With the Wind' Parody is a Timeless Comedy Classic

Delta Burke

Annie Potts

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP and Kelly Jordan/MediaPunch/IPx

The self-absorbed Suzanne Sugarbaker was Julia's sister on the show. Burke was able to use her former beauty queen days as Miss Florida to bring her character to life and ended up earning a couple of Emmy nominations. At one point, Burke was incredibly close with her castmate Dixie Carter who was even the Maid of Honor at her wedding. But there were some onset disagreements with the number of hours required and Carter sided with the production team. Ultimately, Burke was let go after the fifth season of the show.

Burke went on to star on Broadway in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Steel Magnolias. She also had a short-lived show, Delta, followed by a brief resurrection of Suzanne Sugarbaker in Women of the House. She has continued appearing on various TV shows including Boston Legal, Drop Dead Diva, and most recently, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings on Netflix.

Meshach Taylor

Annie Potts

ASSOCIATED PRESS/ Wikipedia/ Lia Chang

The lone man at the design firm was Anthony Bouvier, the ex-con turned delivery man pursuing a law degree. His character was actually only supposed to appear in one episode, but he did such a great job and had a great vibe with the ladies, he was kept on for the rest of the series. He even became a partner at the firm.

After earning an Emmy nomination for his role as Bouvier, Taylor went on to appear in M*A*S*H, Hannah Montana, The Drew Carey Show, Dave's World and was Lumière in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. He even had his own HGTV show in 1996, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor. The actor passed away in his Los Angeles home in 2014 after a battle with cancer.

This article was originally published in June of 2020.

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