”Hi, I’m Phil Hartman, perhaps you may remember me from my portrayal of such well known celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Barbara Bush, Charlton Heston, Phil Donahue and President Bill Clinton back in the days when I was working at Saturday Night Live. But there’s probably so much more you don’t know about me so I’m getting ready to tell you the story of my life.”
Believe it or not, I was born in that hotbed of comedy, Brantford, Ontario back in 1948 and lived there for about ten years or so when the family up and moved to the United States. We settled in Connecticut but soon decided the pastures were greener out west and moved to California.
Since I was generally known as the class clown, I barely managed to graduate high school. With nothing much to do I enrolled in Santa Monica City College. That turned out to be a waste of time so, much like many others of my generation, I dropped out in 1969 and became a roadie in some obscure rock band. That lasted until 1972 and I somehow went back to school and would later graduate from California State University, Northridge with a degree in graphic arts.
I decided to open my own design business and wound up creating over 40 album covers for various bands. My biggest claim to fame was doing stuff for Poco, America and the logo for Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Things were looking good.
I decided to try my hand at television and auditioned and despite some stiff competition landed a spot as a contestant on The Dating Game. Much to my surprise, the hot babe picked me to be her date. Even more to my surprise, she never showed up for it.
Fresh off that hurt, I decided to try and expand my horizons and try my hand at comedy. I started in a local improv group called The Groundlings. Soon after I met a guy by the name of Paul Reubens. After writing with him for awhile we decided to collaborate our efforts and came up with the idea for a character called Pee Wee Herman and I even appeared on the show as somebody by the name of Captain Carl in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. In 1985 I wrote the script for the blockbuster movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Heh heh.
In 1986 I decided to go east and audition for the cast of Saturday Night Live. Besides doing the impressions I mentioned in my intro, I also helped create and played the part of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer as well as Eugene, the Anal Retentive Chef amongst many others. In 1993 I almost left SNL because many of the other cast members had departed but decided to stick it out for another year. I finally parted ways with them in 1994.
In 1995 I landed the part of “Bill McNeal” on the NBC sitcom NewsRadio. The critics loved it but the audience didn’t and it was eventually cancelled in 1999. I wasn’t there for its last year but there’s more about that to come later.
During my time at SNL I also moonlighted on another television show you might have heard of. It was called The Simpsons and even though I did some minor voice work there I’m most proud of the work I did as actor Troy McClure. You can read about most of my roles by just clicking on that link but here’s some of my favorite quotes from the show.
”Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You might remember me from such self-help videos as "Smoke Yourself Thin", and "Get Confident, Stupid.".
”Hi, I'm actor Troy McClure! You might remember me from such driver's ed films as "Alice's Adventures Through The Windshield Glass" and "The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot." For the next sixty minutes, we'll be seeing actual film of car crash victims."
"Hello, I'm Troy McClure! You might remember me from such celebrity funerals as "Andre The Giant, We Hardly Knew Ye" and "Shemp Howard: Today We Mourn A Stooge."
"Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such other nature films as "Earwigs, Eww!" and "Man Vs Nature... The Road To Victory".
I could go on and on but a certain event occurred on May 27, 1998 that caused everything I was doing at the time to come to a screeching halt.
My coke fiend bitch of a wife, Brynn, went out to dinner with a friend of hers to Bucca di Beppo. After she returned home loaded to the gills we got in an argument. I did what any sane person would do and offered to get her help. If she refused, I threatened to divorce her and then went to bed and fell asleep. From there, my own personal account of what transpired gets sketchy but this is what I heard.
At about 3:00 AM, the bitch got her hands on a .38, snuck into the bedroom and put two bullets in my brain and another one in my side. She then drove to a friend’s house and told him what she had done. At first, the guy didn’t believe her so they drove back to my house in separate cars. During that time, Brynn called another friend and confessed to offing me a second time. Once they got back to the house, the first friend discovered my body and called the police. They got there shortly afterwards and took the friend and my two kids (who were still sleeping, thank God) from the house.
In the interim, while I lay there dead in the bed at the tender age of 49, that bitch Brynn barricaded herself in the bedroom and wound up committing suicide by putting a bullet in her head.
My body was cremated and my ashes were scattered over Santa Catalina Island's Emerald Bay.
So, that’s my story. All I can say is that I enjoyed almost every minute of my time here on Earth and I hope I brought some smiles and laughter to everybody I managed to touch while I was here.
Except for Brynn, may she rot in hell.
Thanks for telling us your story Phil. You left us quite a legacy and from what I can see, you were regarded as one of the “good guys” in an industry that has more than its fair share of assholes. If it’s any consolation, you were remembered fondly by everyone you came across. From a purely personal standpoint, you were one of the best cast members ever to appear on SNL and every time I see you in reruns you can still make me laugh. It’s a shame, through no fault of your own, the light you shined, was snuffed out too quickly.