The Story Behind Phil Hartman’s Death

Brynn Hartman, Phil Hartman's Wife


Phil Hartman was one of the greatest comedians to be a part of “SNL,” but his life was cut short in a truly tragic event. With their two children in the house, on May 28, 1998, Hartman’s wife, Brynn, shot and killed him while he was sleeping in their home. Phil and Brynn Hartman were married in 1987.

The couple lived in the Encino-section of Los Angeles. Shortly after killing her husband, Brynn turned the gun on herself.

When police arrived on the scene of the murder, they found the couple’s then-9-year-old son, Sean, running out the front door of the home. As the police also helped their 6-year-old daughter, Birgen, get to a safe place, a shot was heard from inside. The LA Times reported that this was Brynn committing suicide in their bedroom, where her husband was slain.

At the time of the incident, Lt. Anthony Alba of the Los Angeles Police Department’s statement was, “We know for sure (Brynn Hartman) inflicted her own gunshot wound, and she apparently shot herself as the officers were in the house. Mr. Hartman had been dead for a while. He did not die at the same time that Mrs. Hartman apparently killed herself.”

Phil Hartman Was Found Dead in his Bed in a Pool of Blood

Police said there were no signs of a struggle when they examined the murder scene. Hartmann was wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt, while lying on his side, in a bed full of his blood. His wife was found lying on her back, in a two-piece pajama set.

After killing her husband, Brynn had gone to an ex-lover’s home, later named as Ron Douglas. There, Brynn is said to have confessed to shooting Hartman dead. Douglas accompanied Brynn back to the Hartman family home, which the comedian had previously dubbed, “The Ponderosa.”

When Douglas saw Hartman’s dead body, he fled the bedroom and called 911. Brynn then locked herself in the room where she shot herself dead.

Brynn Hartman ‘Did Too Much Cocaine,’ According to Her Brother

An attorney for Hartman, Steve Small, told The LA Times, that Brynn Hartman had struggled with anger issues during her marriage to Phil Hartman. Small said, “She had trouble controlling her anger … She got attention by losing her temper. Phil said he had to . . . restrain her at times.”

CNN reported that Brynn had a substance abuse problem and that some of Hartman’s friends did not approve of her. Cassandra Peterson said, “They fought a lot. I don’t know what the problems were. I have suspicions.”

Hartman had battled substance abuse problems. In the ABC documentary, “The Last Days of Phil Hartman,” Greg Omdahl, Brynn’s brother said she “had a problem with cocaine. She did too much cocaine.”

At the time Brynn Hartman shot-and-killed Hartman, she was drunk and had taken cocaine. In the lead-up to the incident, Brynn was also taking Zoloft, a powerful anti-depressant. Greg Omdahl, told ABC that his sister suffered from anxiety. Omdahl would go on to file a lawsuit against Pfizer, the manufacturer, as well as the doctor who prescribed the drug to Brynn Hartman. Omdahl maintained that neither the manufacturer not the doctor had made his sister aware of the possible suicidal side-effects of the drug.

In addition to drugs, Hartman’s “NewsRadio” co-star, Joe Rogan, said in a 2014 interview, “She was a failed actress who deeply resented [Phil’s] success, and as he became more and more successful, their relationship became more and more contentious.”

Comedian Jon Lovitz Has Said That Andy Dick Was Responsible for Getting Brynn Hartman on Cocaine Again

Jon Lovitz Andy Dick

GettyJon Lovitz attends the ceremony honoring Phil Hartman with a star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame ceremony on August 26, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Comedian Jon Lovitz has accused fellow comedian Andy Dick of reintroducing Brynn to cocaine. Dick has said that he was unaware of Brynn’s addiction problems.

In 2007, Lovitz said in an interview that after he had replaced Hartman on “NewsRadio,” he and Andy Dick had numerous run-ins. Lovitz said that during one run-in, he told Dick that he wouldn’t have needed to be hired if Dick hadn’t given Brynn Hartman cocaine at a New Year’s Eve party in the Hartman’s home, which led to her relapse. At that time, Lovitz said Brynn Hartman had been sober for ten years.

During the same interview, Lovitz said that he witnessed a drunk Andy Dick joke about putting a “Phil Hartman hex” on a group of people and saying they were the next to die. A week later, the two had another physical confrontation at a comedy club that got broken up. Page Six quoted Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada as saying, “Jon picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose. All the comedians are glad I did it because this guy is a [bleep]hole.”

In 2019, Lovitz said that he and Dick had made up. Lovitz told Philly Voice, “Things came to a head with Andy. I lost my temper and I’m not proud of it. We talked afterward. He apologized and we made up.”

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