Birgen and Sean Hartman were only 6 and 9 years old when their mother, Brynn, shot and killed their father, comedian and actor Phil Hartman. The kids were in the family’s Encino home when Brynn shot her husband in the head before later turning the weapon on herself. It was one of the most shocking crime stories of the late 1990s.
For the kids, it was obviously a life-changing and jolting tragedy. However, the children – now adults – seem to be living positive lives, buoyed by the love Brynn’s family showed them growing up. Birgen Hartman has the most public profile of the two siblings, although she lives a relatively private life as well. The children appear to have had a normal Midwestern upbringing.
A news article from 1998 in the Los Angeles Times describes the horrific scene that day; police, responding to a shots fired call at the home, found Sean “fleeing out the front door” and, when they returned to get Birgen, they heard the sound of a gunshot. It was Brynn, who had killed herself. Neither child was physically injured.
Phil Hartman’s autopsy report says that responding officers “began removing the couple’s two minor children from the scene, and began attempting to talk the distraught Mrs. Hartman out of the bedroom, and into custody.” Police tried a “diversionary tactic …where an officer outside the bedroom window broke a window to divert Mrs. Hartman’s attention. Nonetheless, police heard a single gunshot from within the bedroom, and discovered Mrs. Hartman unresponsive on the bed when they entered. Responding officers removed a revolver from Mrs. Hartman’s right hand.”
Here’s what you need to know about the children of Phil and Brynn Hartman today:
The Children Were Placed in the Care of Brynn’s Sister & Her Husband, Who Raised Them in Wisconsin & Minnesota
Brynn Hartman’s family swept in and took care of the children. The couple’s children ended up going to live with their maternal aunt and her husband in the Midwest, where they were raised. According to The Associated Press, Brynn Hartman’s sister is named Katharine Wright and her husband is named Mike.
The Wrights were named guardians of the children. The couple had no children of their own and raised Birgen and Sean in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and then Edina, Minnesota. Prior to the Wrights taking them in, the kids stayed with Phil Hartman’s brother, John Hartman.
Birgen clearly embraced life in the northwoods. In 2015, she wrote on Instagram, “Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t moved back to LA… but then I drive through a forest, discover a deserted lake, trespass onto an old wooden dock and have a staring contest with an eagle, and I think meh… The north isn’t that bad.”
The family only spent a brief time in Eau Claire, which is located in northern Wisconsin, before moving to Edina, according to VolumeOne. Kathy Wright says today on Facebook that she lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is married, and is self-employed. She is from Thief River Falls, Minnesota.
Ancestry records show that Brynn Hartman was born Vicki Jo Omdahl in 1958 in Pennington, Minnesota to Donald Gene and Constance Faye Omdahl. Kathy Wright is one of her three siblings; Brynn’s brother is named Gregory Clark Omdahl and she also has a sister named Debbie Omdahl Borreson, Ancestry records show. Brynn was divorced from a man named Doug Torfin and married Phil Hartman in Manhattan in 1987, the records show. “We’re still in shock,” her mother, Constance Omdahl, told the Grand Forks Herald, shortly after the double tragedy.
Phil’s brother John told CBS that it was difficult for some members of Phil’s family to accept that the children would be raised by his murderer’s sister. But he knew it was the best thing for the children. “I started with my mother. And said, ‘Ma, we have to do the right thing here. These people did not kill Phil. And they’re good people.’ I was trying to keep the two families as one,” he said to CBS.
Phil Hartman’s Daughter, Birgen, Is Recently Married, a College Graduate & Recently Wrote That Her Dad Will ‘Always Have my Heart’
In 2015, Birgen attended the SNL 40th anniversary celebration, to honor her father, as reported by the Huffington Post. When talking about the special, Birgen said, “It’s just heartwarming for me to see, after all these years, that he is still remembered and admired.” It was a rare foray into public life, although she is fairly active on social media, even offering glimpses into her feelings about her parents.
According to her Instagram posts, today Birgen is married and, like her brother, mainly lives her life out of the spotlight. She and husband, Brandon, got married in 2018, in Italy. For a time, Birgen was in a band called Glitter Bomb, VolumeOne reported.
In 2016, Birgen posted a photo of her father on Instagram, in honor of Father’s Day, and she wrote a touching tribute to him that read, “As another father’s day comes to an end, I remind myself that no matter what, I’m very fortunate to have had a number of great father figures in my life. but this dapper dude will always have my heart.”
Birgen’s social media posts indicate that, at one point, Birgen, like her mother, suffered from substance abuse issues, but got sober in February of 2012. Birgen, in 2018, posted a graphic showing a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle. The caption read, “Drug dealers are dorks. Don’t even talk to them.” In the caption, Birgen wrote, “? 6 years drug-free today! ? Thanks for the advice, Donatello!”
Birgen is an animal activist; her Instagram page is filled with odes to her cats, and, on Facebook, she has written posts in defense of Cecil the Lion and a sick cat needing treatment. She also urged people to frequent small businesses and artisans in Minneapolis. According to Yahoo, Birgen “completed a degree in Communications and Journalism at the University of St. Thomas” and she’s worked as a coffee shop barista, in sales at an athletic shoe store, and doing data entry for a bank. She has volunteered for organizations that help cats.
A friend wrote on the comment thread about the cat, “Birgen, you are SO much like your Mom! She loved animals, especially cats and was very involved as you are with saving and helping sick kitties. ??? ” Birgen responded with a smiley face and series of hearts.
On May 28, 2017, the anniversary of her parents’ deaths, Bergin posted a photo of flowers she received with this caption:
“Normally I wouldn’t address this day on social media, but I just wanted to thank everyone for all of the thoughtful messages (and the beautiful flowers) I’ve received this weekend… from friends, family, fans… It truly means the world to me, and my parents would be so happy to know that such a supportive community still exists for us after all these years. I don’t know what else to say, I’m just so grateful… It’s been a tough day but I certainly don’t feel alone. So thank you ❤️.”
At Edina High School, Bergin Was on a Trends Board for the Mall of America & Received a City Commendation
Birgen was very involved in extra-curricular activities growing up in Edina. In 2009, the Minneapolis Star-Tribute reported that she was a member of the Mall of America’s Trend Board, “which provides a voice for people in their age groups.”
The article says she was 17 and attending Edina High School (she is listed as a 2010 graduate of that high school). She told the newspaper she was considering going to prom and described her dress: “If I do go, I have a dress that was my mom’s by Sophie Sitbon Paris that is black with a silver print. It’s long and sleek, and happens to fit perfectly without tailoring. If not, there were a few dresses at Glitz that caught my eye. As far as colors, I want either black or red.”
Birgen and another student from Edina High School received Mayor’s Youth Commendations at the City’s Volunteer Recognition Reception for co-moderating a panel discussion called “Understanding Life in Darfur and What We Can Do.”
Sean Hartman Is an Artist & Musician Who Inherited His Parents’ Fortune Along With His Sister
Sean Hartman keeps a much lower profile than his sister, who is active on social media. According to ABC, Sean works as an artist and musician. Online records show that his full name is Sean Edward Hartman. Today, he is 31 years old and lives in Oakland, California, those records show. He doesn’t appear to have any obvious presence on social media.
Sean Hartman, an Edina High School graduate, “illustrated the poster for the short film ‘Kimura’s Vengeance,'” according to HometownSource.com.
According to Volume One, a Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin publication, “Sean spent his high school years in a couple of bands (one named Metamorphis Mexico), then became a visual artist.” Here is the MySpace page for the band Metamorphis Mexico. It has some photos.
When Phil Hartman’s brother John learned of the May 28, 1998 shooting, he jumped in his car and raced to the scene. The children were in the care of police, and John remembered, “They had no idea what was going on. No idea whatsoever. When Sean said, ‘What are we doing here?’ I decided in that instant that I would never lie to them. And I just said, ‘Sean, mommy and daddy are dead,'” CBS Local Los Angeles reported.
John recalled, “Sean didn’t scream. But he cried and said ‘No.’ And Birgen started crying. And I said come here and they cried.”
The Hartmans left their estate, which was estimated at $1.23 million, to their children, according to the Associated Press. When it came to their inheritance, Sean and Birgen “would each get a third of their inheritance when they reach age 25 or receive a bachelor’s degree from a four-year accredited university. They will receive half the remaining balance when they turn 30 and the remainder when they turn 35.”
Phil Hartman Was a Doting Father to His Two Kids
ABC reported that Phil Hartman was a loving father. According to Inside Edition, in a home movie played on ABC, Hartman said, “What makes me the happiest? Well, without a question it’s being a father.”
According to IMDB, Phil Hartman “was born Philip Edward Hartmann on September 24, 1948, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada.” He later dropped the double “n” in the family’s last name. His mother was Doris (Wardell) and his dad was Rupert Loebig Hartman, who worked as a salesman, IMDB reported, adding that Phil Hartman was of German, Irish, and English descent.
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