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Famous Like Me > Actor > H > Phil Hartman

Profile of Phil Hartman on Famous Like Me

Name: Phil Hartman  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 24th September 1948
Place of Birth: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Phil Hartman

Philip "Phil" Edward Hartman (originally Hartmann) (September 24, 1948 – May 28, 1998) was a graphic artist, writer, actor and comedian born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He was also one of several notable graduates from Westchester High School in Los Angeles, California. Hartman became a U.S. citizen in the early 1990s. The exact timing of his switch from "Hartmann" to "Hartman" is unknown, but all of his acting credits after 1986 were as "Hartman."

Hartman and his wife Brynn had two children, Sean Edward Hartman (born 1989) and Birgen Hartman (born 1992).

Early career

In 1975, he joined the California-based comedy group The Groundlings. Hartman met Paul Reubens while working with the Groundlings, and the two became friends, often writing and working on material together. One such collaboration was the character of Pee-wee Herman and the script of the feature film Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Hartman also met Jon Lovitz while with The Groundlings.

Hartman also worked part time as a graphic artist, including designing album covers for popular rock bands. Hartman's covers include:

  • Poco's 1978 album Legend (photo)
  • Firesign Theatre's 1980 album Fighting Clowns (photo)
  • Three album covers for the band America
    • History: Greatest Hits in 1975 (photo)
    • Harbor in 1977 (photo)
    • Silent Letter in 1979 (photo).

Hartman also designed the logo for the band Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Television career

In 1986, Hartman joined the cast of NBC's popular variety show Saturday Night Live and stayed for eight seasons, which was a record at the time. Hartman was known for his impressions, which included Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, Frank Sinatra, Telly Savalas, Ed McMahon, Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson, Barbara Bush, Burt Reynolds, Phil Donahue, and former president Bill Clinton, which was perhaps his best-known impression. His other Saturday Night Live characters included Frankenstein and Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer. Also in 1986, Hartman was chosen to play the role of Captain Carl, one of Pee-Wee Herman's close friends and famed sea captain in the first season of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

From 1991 to 1998, Hartman also provided the voices for a number of characters on the popular animated series, The Simpsons, including dubious attorney Lionel Hutz and B-movie actor Troy McClure.

In 1994, Hartman left SNL. In 1995, he became one of the stars of the NBC sitcom NewsRadio, where he portrayed radio newsman Bill McNeal.

His last role was in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, where he provided the voice of Jiji the cat.


Hartman died on May 28, 1998 in his Encino, California home. He was shot by his wife, Brynn, who then turned the gun on herself later that morning. The reasons for the murder-suicide are unknown, although friends of the Hartmans speculated in the press that the combination of their marriage problems and Brynn's drug addictions probably contributed.

Hartman's death caused considerable mourning in Hollywood. NewsRadio produced a special episode where the cast sincerely and tearfully mourned the death of Hartman's on-screen counterpart. After his death, Lovitz joined the show. Out of respect, The Simpsons retired his characters, rather than finding another voice actor. He was getting ready to do the voice of several characters on Matt Groening's Futurama. After he died, his name was given to the lead character; Fry.

Hartman was posthumously nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of McNeal in NewsRadio, but lost out to David Hyde Pierce from the show Frasier. Upon learning Hartman did not win the award, Dave Foley (a friend and fellow star of NewsRadio) remarked, "What's this guy gotta do to win an Emmy?"

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Phil Hartman