Phil Hartman - Biography - IMDb
Phil Hartman Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (50)  | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (5)

Born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died in Encino, California, USA  (homicide)
Birth NamePhillip Edward Hartmann
Nicknames The Sultan of Smarm
The Glue of "Saturday Night Live"
The Man of a Thousand Voices
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Phil Hartman was born Philip Edward Hartmann on September 24, 1948, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. His surname was originally "Hartmann", but he later dropped the second "n". He was one of eight children of Doris Marguerite (Wardell) and Rupert Loebig Hartmann, a salesman. He was of German, Irish, and English descent. The family moved to the United States when Phil was around ten, and he spent the majority of his childhood in Connecticut and Southern California. He later obtained his American citizenship in the early 1990s. He often would visit his homeland of Canada throughout his career, and the City of Brantford even erected a plaque on the Walk of Fame in the town in honor of Phil's career and memory. The Humber College Comedy: Writing & Performance program in Toronto, Ontario, also has an award in Phil's memory that is given out to their Post-Graduate comedy students.

Phil originally studied Graphic Design at California State University. He began to work part time as a graphic artist, designing album covers for such bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (see Crosby Stills Nash & Young) and Poco. In 1975, alongside doing album work, Phil joined the California comedy troupe, The Groundlings. While in The Groundlings, Phil worked with Paul Reubens and Jon Lovitz, who became good friends of his until his death. Phil and Paul created the character Pee Wee Herman together, and Phil even had a role on Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986) as pirate Captin' Carl.

In 1986, Phil joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (1975) and was on the show for a record of 8 seasons (which was later broken by Tim Meadows). Phil played a wide range of characters including: Frank Sinatra, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Ed McMahon, Barbara Bush, and many others. He was known to help out other writers who wanted to get their sketches read and onto the show. He held Saturday Night Live (1975) together during his 8-year reign, thus the nickname he garnered while on the show, "The Glue." Phil was also known for his voice work on commercials and cartoons. He was probably most well known for the voices of Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on the animated comedy The Simpsons (1989). He also provided other minor voices for The Simpsons (1989). Phil left Saturday Night Live (1975) in 1994, and in 1995, was cast in the critically acclaimed NBC show NewsRadio (1995) as arrogant radio show host Bill McNeal.

After Phil's death, Phil's good friend Jon Lovitz attempted to fill the void as Max Lewis on NewsRadio (1995), but the struggling show's ratings dropped, and the show later fizzled out and ended in 1999. Phil had an interesting career in movies, mostly playing supporting characters. He was the lead in Houseguest (1995) and was also in Greedy (1994), Jingle All the Way (1996), Sgt. Bilko (1996), and his last live action film, Small Soldiers (1998). His last role was the English language dub of Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), as the quick-witted cat Jiji, which featured Small Soldiers co-star Kirsten Dunst in the lead voice role.

On May 28th, 1998, Phil was shot to death while sleeping in his Encino, California home by his wife, Brynn Hartman. Brynn left the house and later came back with a friend to show him Phil's body. When her friend went to call 911, Brynn locked herself in the bedroom with Phil's lifeless body and shot herself. It was later discovered by the coroner that Brynn had alcohol, cocaine, and the antidepressant, Zoloft, in her system. They left behind two children, Sean Edward (b. 1988) and Birgen (b. 1992). Phil and Brynn's bodies were cremated and spread upon Catalina Island, just off the coast of California, on June 4, 1998. Phil had specifically stated in his will that he wanted the ashes spread on Catalina Island because it was his favorite holiday getaway as he was an avid boater, surfer and general lover of the sea.

Phil was a very caring and sensitive person and was described as "very sweet and kind of quiet."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: CG

Family (3)

Spouse Brynn Hartman (25 November 1987 - 28 May 1998)  (his death)  (2 children)
Lisa Strain (18 December 1982 - 7 May 1985)  (divorced)
Gretchen Lewis (12 March 1970 - 19 September 1972)  (divorced)
Children Sean Edward Hartman
Birgen Hartman
Parents Hartmann, Doris Marguerite
Hartmann, Rupert Loebig

Trade Mark (4)

Known for playing oblivious or immoral characters
His character Chick Hazard P.I.
Unflappable confidence
Game show announcer voice

Trivia (50)

Created artwork for Poco's 1978 album "Legend". Painted the cover for the album "America's Greatest Hits: History". He was credited as "Phil Hartmann". The signature "hartmann" is also on the artwork. Designed logo for the folk rock band Crosby Stills & Nash. Designed and drew the cover to the Firesign Theatre's 1980 album "The Fighting Clowns".
Celebrity impersonations include Bill Clinton, Frank Sinatra, Michael Caine, Telly Savalas, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush and Phil Donahue. He was one of seven actors to have portrayed Ronald Reagan on Saturday Night Live (1975). Died the same month as Frank Sinatra, whom he had many times impersonated on Saturday Night Live (1975).
Had two children with Brynn Hartman: Sean Edward (b. 1989) and Birgen Hartman (b. 1992), who were raised by Brynn's sister Katherine and her husband Michael Wright in Eau Claire, Wisconsin after the deaths of their parents.
Joined the comedy troupe The Groundlings in 1975 where he met Jon Lovitz and Paul Reubens.
Majored in graphic design at California State University.
Was born Canadian, but became a United States citizen in the early 1990s.
Was originally chosen to do the voice of Zapp Brannigan on the animated series Futurama (1999). After his death, the role went to Billy West.
Had portrayed Bill Clinton on Saturday Night Live (1975).
Was one of seven actors to have portrayed Ronald Reagan on Saturday Night Live (1975).
Was one of eight siblings born into a Catholic family that migrated to the United States from Canada in the 1950s.
Died the same month as Frank Sinatra, whom he had many times impersonated on Saturday Night Live (1975).
He is not related to cartoonist Butch Hartman, contrary to popular belief.
When Phil Hartman died in 1998, it was necessary to write into the storyline of the television series NewsRadio (1995) that his anchorman character Bill McNeal had died. When that episode was being filmed, the cast and crew had to stop and restart a number of times because they continually broke out in tears.
According to The Simpsons (1989) creator Matt Groening, Hartman wanted to make a live action film out of Troy McClure, his character on the show.
Jonathan Winters was his first comedic idol.
Attended Westchester High School with Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme.
The character of Philip J. Fry on the animated series Futurama (1999) is named for him.
Before every appearance on Saturday Night Live (1975), he would say the Lord's Prayer to calm himself.
Was originally signed on to play the role of Zapp Brannigan on the animated series Futurama (1999) before his death. The role instead went to Billy West, whose main character, Phillip J. Fry, was named for him.
Because he helped create the character Pee-Wee Herman, Phil was asked to co-write Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) and he accepted.
Auditioned for the announcer position on The Price Is Right (1972), which went to Rod Roddy.
Over the course of 9 seasons of Phil on The Simpsons (1989), he voiced 19 characters. His regulars Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz, and his one-time characters Moses, The Cable Guy, Plato, The Stockbroker, Horrace, Smooth Jimmy Apollo, Lyle Lanely, Duff Gardens Announcer, Security Guard 2, Mandy Patinkin, FNL announcer, Mr. Muntz, Conover, Charlton Heston, Doctor on Review Board Commitee and Bill Clinton.
In a television interview, Hartman stated that he believed what clinched the Saturday Night Live (1975) audition for him was when he was asked if there was anything else he wanted to show them. He replied that he could do any dialect. If they could name the dialect, he could do it. Dennis Miller was watching his audition, and shouted out, "Do French!". Hartman's reply was, "I don't do that.".
He was, by far, the most prolific "guest star" on The Simpsons (1989), having been in 53 episodes before his death.
Before he became famous, appeared on The Dating Game (1965) as one of the three competing eligible bachelors. He was chosen by the bachelorette but, according to Hartman, she did not show up for their date.
Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live (1975) considered Hartman so important to the show, he called him "The Glue".
Spoke fluent German. A video once circulated of him doing a stand-up routine in German.
Planned to star in his own variety show titled "The Phil Show" after leaving "SNL" but NBC scrapped the project.
Planned a movie based on his character Chick Hazard, Private Eye but the project fell through.
Wrote a comedy-horror screenplay titled "Mr. Fix-It". Robert Zemeckis was to produce with Gil Bettman directing. But Zemeckis was unable to get financing and the project stalled.
On his last Saturday Night Live performance, he serenaded Chris Farley.
Was close friends with fellow SNL cast member Jan Hooks.
As a mark of respect, Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, his characters on The Simpsons (1989), were written out of the series and have not been seen or mentioned since.
Rehearsals for The Simpsons (1989) were cancelled on the day his death was announced.
Helped Jan Hooks overcome her stage fright while on Saturday Night Live (1975).
Despite being known for playing boorish characters, he had a reputation as one of the nicest, most well-liked actors in Hollywood with many of his co-stars and directors describing him as a true professional and a joy to work with.
Managed a graphic design business before acting and designed over forty album covers, including the logo for Crosby Stills & Nash.
Did not start acting until he was 27 years old.
He was cremated after death and his ashes were scattered over Santa Catalina Island's Emerald Bay.
Posthumously received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6600 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on August 26, 2014.
Posthumously received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, Ontario in 2012.
Was the subject of a 2014 biography, You Might Remember Me, taking its title from Hartman's Simpsons catchphrase. The book reports that he removed the extra "n" from his surname to improve his i-ching number. Also, while Frank Sinatra came to enjoy Hartman's impersonation once it met with his daughter Tina's approval, Bill Clinton had more mixed feelings, sending him a photo with the inscription "you're not the president, but you play one on TV and you're OK - mostly".
Also well known for his voice work on commercials and cartoons. He was probably most well known for the voices of Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on the animated comedy The Simpsons (1989). He also provided other minor voices for The Simpsons (1989). Phil left Saturday Night Live (1975) in 1994, and in 1995, was cast in the critically acclaimed NBC show NewsRadio (1995) as arrogant radio show host Bill McNeal.
On his last appearance on Saturday Night Live his send off included him serenading Chris Farley. Both actors would die six months apart from each other.
His death occurred only five days after the Seattle International Film Festival premiered Disney's English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), in which he gave one of his last performances.
Just before he died Hartman recorded a voiceover routine with Don Rickles for the introduction to the Tiki Room at Walt Disney World. After his death, audience members were seen to become visibly shook up when they recognized his voice.
Despite appearing in three films with comedian Sinbad, the only film they shared any screen time together in was Houseguest (1995). They also appeared in Coneheads (1993) and Jingle all the Way (1996) but did not share any scenes together in those films.
According to one of his final interviews (and also what his friends and co-stars have confirmed), since Hartman was approaching 50, He felt he wanted to go into dramatic or serious films (or roles) and not continue to do 'over the top' comedies (like "Jingle all the Way'' (1996)). Sadly, his tragic death happened before he could get it 'rolling'.
His father Rupert Hartmann passed away on April 30, 1998 (at age 83), less than a month before Phil's tragic death.
He had made a guest spot on the cliffhanger of the season finale of the show 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996). He was meant to appear in the new season opener. Then when his extremely-unexpected death happened, it was decided that his scenes (in the finale) be re-shot with a different actor playing a different character (which re-aired a week before the season's premiere) so that it wouldn't seem awkwardly re-cast or considered disrespectful.

Personal Quotes (10)

I'm 49-years-old and I'm cautious of the fact that very few people in comedy have careers after age 50. I think there's a notion in our society, and it maybe valid, that people aren't as funny when they get older. It's a stigma still attached to the rebelliousness of youth. I do believe that sooner or later I'll get those great roles like Gary Sinise's part in Forrest Gump (1994) or Tommy Lee Jones' as Two-Face in Batman Forever (1995).
I started doing Clinton and then I was on the cover of TV Guide. I became... a household name... I didn't have to look for work any more. Work came to me.
I benefit from the Mr. Potato Head syndrome. Put a wig and a nose and glasses on me, and I disappear.
(On the 1991 arrest of Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) for indecent exposure): The loss he took for what allegedly happened is the equivalent of somebody's getting 20 years for having a joint in their wallet.
I still don't speak to Paul Reubens. We just had a falling out and never put it back together.
I'm a really big fan of Bill Murray. He's been a great influence on me - when he did that smarmy thing in Ghostbusters (1984), then the same sort of thing in Groundhog Day (1993). I tried to imitate it. I couldn't. I wasn't good enough. But I discovered an element of something else, so in a sick kind of way I made myself a career by doing a bad imitation of another comic. I know who I am as a person, but as a comic actor I'm still trying to figure it out.
It's fun coming in as the second or third lead. If the movie or TV show bombs, you aren't to blame.
[on appearing on The Dating Game (1965)] I won... What did it? She asked me, if I was a street sign, what would I be? I said, "Slippery when wet." Yes, and as you might have expected, she stood me up.
I've served the same role that Dan Aykroyd did. The average guy who you could put wigs and glasses and noses on and make into a lot of different things. I've been sympathetic dads, scary attorneys, insane killers and Frank Sinatra, who is sort of an amalgam of all those things.
[on leaving Saturday Night Live (1975)] The shows are getting less sophisticated. There's less political satire. The younger audience loves Adam Sandler. He appeals less to the intellect and more to that stand-up sensibility of "Let's go out there and be insane." I like Adam Sandler, but that's not my kind of comedy, so, yeah, in a way it makes me feel like, "Well, it's time for me to go.".

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed