Philip Edward “Phil” Hartman (September 24, 1948 – May 28, 1998; born Hartmann) was a Canadian American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and graphic artist.
Born in Brantford, Ontario, Hartman and his family moved to the United States when he was 10. After graduating from California State University, Northridge, with a degree in graphic arts, he designed album covers for bands like Poco and America. Feeling the need for a more creative outlet, Hartman joined the comedy group The Groundlings in 1975 and there helped comedian Paul Reubens develop his character Pee-wee Herman. Hartman co-wrote the screenplay for the film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and made recurring appearances on Reubens’ show Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
Hartman became famous in the late 1980s when he joined the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He won fame for his impressions, particularly of President Bill Clinton, and he stayed on the show for eight seasons. Given the moniker “The Glue”, for his ability to hold the show together and help other cast members, Hartman won a Primetime Emmy Award for his SNL work in 1989. In 1995, after scrapping plans for his own variety show, he starred as Bill McNeal in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio. He had frequent roles on The Simpsons as Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure, and others, and appeared in the films Houseguest, Sgt. Bilko, Jingle All the Way, and Small Soldiers.
Hartman had been divorced twice before he married Brynn Omdahl in 1987; the couple had two children together. However, their marriage was fractured, due in part to Brynn’s drug use. On May 28, 1998, Brynn shot and killed Hartman while he slept in their Encino, Los Angeles, home, then committed suicide several hours later. In the weeks following his death, Hartman was celebrated in a wave of tributes. Dan Snierson of Entertainment Weekly opined that Hartman was “the last person you’d expect to read about in lurid headlines in your morning paper…a decidedly regular guy, beloved by everyone he worked with”. Hartman was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2012 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.