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Today in History: May 28th, 1998

Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images

Phil Hartman Dies at 49 After Being Murdered by His Wife in His Sleep

On May 28, 1998, the entertainment world was rocked by the tragic death of Phil Hartman, a beloved comedian and actor. Known for his work on Saturday Night Live (SNL), The Simpsons, and NewsRadio, Hartman was a cherished figure in comedy. His death at the age of 49, at the hands of his wife Brynn, left fans and colleagues in shock and mourning.

Phil Hartman was a versatile performer. On SNL, he created memorable characters like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and impersonated figures like President Bill Clinton. His voice work on The Simpsons as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz became iconic. On NewsRadio, he played the character Bill McNeal, further showcasing his comedic talent. Hartman’s contributions to comedy made him a household name and a respected figure in the industry.

Portrait of Phil Hartman.
Phil Hartman as Bill McNeal, circa 1996. (Photo Credit: Dave Bjerke / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images)

The tragic events of May 28 unfolded in the Hartmans’ home in Encino, California. Brynn shot Phil while he was asleep, then drove to a friend’s house to confess. The friend called the police, who arrived at the scene and took the Hartmans’ two children to safety. Brynn then locked herself in the bedroom and took her own life. The exact motive remains unclear, but it is known that Brynn struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues.

The immediate aftermath saw an outpouring of grief and tributes from the entertainment community. SNL paid homage to Hartman in their next episode, highlighting his best moments on the show. His death also sparked broader discussions about mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence, emphasizing the need for awareness and support in these areas.

More from us: Phil Hartman’s Death: The Tragic End of an ‘SNL’ Legend

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Phil Hartman’s legacy continues to live on through his work, which remains beloved by fans old and new. His untimely death is a poignant reminder of the personal struggles that can exist behind public personas. Hartman’s contributions to comedy and television are celebrated to this day, ensuring that his impact on the entertainment world endures.

TVN News Poster

TVN News Poster is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News