Phil Hartman is one man the world of entertainment wouldn’t forget in a hurry, he was a bag of talents – from voice over to screenwriting, comedy, acting and even graphics, Phil was just everywhere and fans loved him for that. His work on Saturday Night Live both as a cast and a member of the writing crew earned him an Emmy Award in 1989. He was also known for playing several iconic roles on some popular shows and sitcom including The Simpsons.
Sadly, Hartman’s life came to a tragic end in 1998 when he was barely 50 years of age. The man who had brought so much joy and laughter to TV audiences had his own life cut short in the most grisly manner and this got many people asking questions: what actually went wrong? Was his marriage a troubled one? Were there warning signs of pending dangers that he ignored? Here is everything we know about Phil Hartman’s life and the marriage that sent him to an early grave.
Phil Hartman’s Early Life & Career
The Hollywood icon was born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada on the 24th of September 1948. His parents had eight children and he was the middle child (fourth). His family moved to the United States when Phil was just ten years old. He attended Westchester High School in Los Angeles and California State University, Northridge where he graduated with a degree in Graphic Arts.
Upon leaving college, Hartman established his own Graphic Arts business, creating and designing album covers, advertising logos and other such things for several music bands. While at it, he enrolled for comedy classes run by The Groundlings in Los Angeles. After years of training, he joined the cast of The Groundlings and eventually became one of the main stars of the show.
His career took a new turn in 1977 when together he and fellow comedian Reuben created the character Pee-wee Herman and the Pee-wee Herman Show. Hartman played Captain Carl on the show which would later be made into a movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and a TV program Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-87). After a fall out with Reuben, Hartman abandoned the projects and got busy with other things which included providing voice overs for adverts and he became well known for that.
Phil scored the most notable role of his showbiz career when he joined the cast and writing crew of NBC’s long-running variety show Saturday Night Live (SNL). He was on the show for eight years, during these years he performed as much as seventy characters. His performances and writing roles on the show earned him 3 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and in 1989, he won the award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.
Hartman appeared on several other popular shows and sitcoms even while working on SNL, the most remarkable of them all was The Simpsons which he featured in from 1991 to 1998. He left SNL in 1994 and moved over to New York City where he joined the cast of NBC sitcom NewsRadio starring radio news anchor Bill McNeal. He was on the show for 4 seasons as he passed on before its fifth and final season.
What Was Phil Hartman’s Family Life Like, Who Was His Wife?
Phil Hartman was married thrice. His first marriage to Gretchen Lewis was on for barely two years (1970-1972) before hitting the rocks. Ten years after his first marriage failed, Hartman ventured into a second marriage with real estate agent Lisa Strain. The marriage, unfortunately, ended in 1985. In 1987, he married aspiring actress and former model Brynn Omdahl, whom he met on a blind date a year before. They had 2 children together Sean Edward, born in 1987 and Birgen Hartman, born in 1992.
Facts About The Troubled Marriage That Killed Phil Hartman
For obvious reasons, the most significant of his marital unions was with Brynn Omdahl but it was, unfortunately, a troubled union. Unlike Hartman, Brynn was also in the showbiz was unable to make headway in her career and as a result, felt threatened by her husband’s success and this became a major issue in their marriage that Phil on several occasion contemplated giving up his own career just to salvage their marriage but this didn’t help.
Omdahl’s brother Greg confirmed this in an interview, stating that his sister once confided in him about Phil’s inability to get her a role on NewsRadio or The Simpsons and was upset about it. Brynn’s situation worsened when she gradually began depending on alcohol and drugs which made it even harder for her to get roles.
The couple didn’t get a divorce but rather decided to stick and make things work between but things took a different turn on the 28th of May 1998 when Brynn under the influence of alcohol walked into Phil’s room and shot him three times while he was still asleep. Releasing what she had done, Brynn reportedly drove to a friend’s place to confess her crime and together they drove back to her place where her friend called 911 but before the police arrived, Brynn had killed herself.
As he requested in his will, his remains were cremated and his ashes scattered on Emerald Bay in Santa Catalina Island, Los Angeles. His two children were raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin Brynn’s sister Katherine Omdahl and her husband Michael Wright.
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