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Phil Hartman
September 24, 1948 - May 28, 1998
 


 

Phil Hartman, was an Canadian-American actor and screenwriter, who was noted for his comedy performances on Saturday Night Live, and starred in many movies and comedies including Coneheads, Jingle All the Way, Loaded Weapon 1, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and Pee-Wee's Playhouse Hartman also had another talent that of a graphic artist. He was quite talented in this area and used his skills on many projects including the redesigning of The Groundling's logo and design of their merchandise.

Phil started his comedy career in 1975 by joining and taking comedy classes at The Groundlings, which is an improvisational and sketch comedy troupe and school based in Los Angeles, California. There he helped other comedians such as Paul Reuben develop their comedy talents.

In the mid 1980's, Hartman starred in movies such as Jumpin' Jack Flash and the Three Amigos!, and in the same year successful auditioned and join the cast of Saturday Night Live, where he appeared in 155 episodes, two times as the host, in addition to participating as a writer of the show.

In the 1990's, in addition to appearing on Saturday Night Live, Hartman acted in movies such as Coneheads, Loaded Weapon 1, CB4, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Houseguest, Sgt. Bilko, and Jingle All the Way.  Hartman starred alongside many great actors such as Dan Aykroyd, Whoppi Goldberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Steve Martin, James Belushi, Mike Myers, Samuel L. Jackson, Chevy Chase, Paul Reuben, and Martin Short.

Phil starred in 52 episodes on the on the animated television sitcom, The Simpsons,  as the voices of the ambulance-chasing lawyer, Lionel Hutz and washed-up actor, Troy McClure.

On the morning of May 28, 1998, Phil Hartman's third wife, Brynn, arrived back at their house at 5054 Encino Avenue, in the Encino section of Los Angeles, California, from a previous night of dinner and partying.  She arrived back at their house around 2:00 AM and proceed upstairs where Phil was asleep in their bedroom.  She had taken a .38 caliber handgun she kept at home and shot Phil three times as he slept, twice in the head and once in the right side.  Brynn then retreated to a friend's house where she confessed of her crime.  The friend, Ron Douglas, at first,  didn't believe her, and then accompanied Brynn back to the Hartman's house where he discovered Phil's body. Douglas called 9-1-1 to report the shooting. At 6:20 AM, police responded to the residence and found the Hartman's children Sean and Birgen unharmed. Brynn Hartman was barricaded in the master bedroom.  Police tried to persuade Brynn to surrender and even tried diversionary tactics,  such as breaking a window, to divert her attention; however, they were unsuccessful.  The police heard a single gunshot from within the bedroom and when they stormed the bedroom, they found the couple bloodied on the bed. Brynn was laying next to Phil with a gunshot wound to the head. Brynn had produced a second .38 caliber handgun which she used to commit suicide.

The events that led up to the shooting were thought to be related to Brynn's alcohol and drug use.  Several days before the shooting, Brynn began using alcohol and cocaine again. She was also being treated for depression with the antidepressant, Zoloft. 

The evening before the shooting, Brynn had gone out to a local restaurant, Buca di Beppo,  with her friend Christine Zander, a supervising producer with the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.  Brynn had a couple of Cosmopolitans over a few hours and was said to be in good spirits.  She returned to the her house and had an argument with Phil about her drug use. It is believed that Phil Hartman was upset with his wife's return to drug use and was going to leave her.

According to the executor of Hartman's estate, Zoloft's manufacturer, Pfizer Inc. and Brynn Hartman's psychiatrist, Arthur Sorosky, are at fault for Hartman's death. The executor, Gregory Omdahl, Brynn Hartman's brother, had filed a wrongful death suit against Pfizer and Sorosky. The suit alleges that Sorosky did not properly warn Mrs. Hartman of the potential for violent and suicidal side effects of Zoloft and that Pfizer has not properly reported such side effects to the public. The makers of Zoloft eventually settled the case out of court and the Hartman children were awarded a monetary settlement.

The bodies were cremated at Forest Lawn Glendale and the ashes scattered off Catalina Island, per Phil's request in his will.

The official cause of his death was listed as Multiple Gunshot Wounds.

 

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