The tragedy wrought upon by Phil Hartman’s wife, the death of Phil Hartman, an iconic comedy actor, and former Saturday Night Live cast member, remains one of the most shocking and heartbreaking tragedies associated with the show. In the early hours of May 28, 1998, Phil Hartman was tragically shot to death while he slept by his wife.
Phil Hartman’s Wife
Brynn Hartman, born Vicki Jo Omdahl, was the wife and ultimately the perpetrator of the tragic murder of actor and comedian Phil Hartman. Born on April 11, 1958, in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, she was the daughter of Donald Gene Omdahl and Constance Faye Omdahl (née Arnold).
Brynn had a brother named Gregory Clark Omdahl and two sisters named Katherine Kelly Omdahl Wright and Debbie Omdahl Borreson. She had previously been married to Douglas Iver Torfin, but they later divorced.
Marriage to Phil
On November 25, 1987, Brynn married Phil Hartman, with whom she had two children: Sean Edward Hartman, born in 1987, and Birgen Hartman, born in 1992.
Following the devastating events, her sister Katherine and her husband Michael Wright assumed the responsibility of raising Sean and Birgen in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Although Brynn had a minor acting career, appearing in small roles on television and film, her most notable appearance was as a Catalina swimsuit model when she crossed paths with Phil Hartman.
Their meeting marked the beginning of their relationship, and Brynn could be seen in the opening credit sequence of Saturday Night Live during the early 1990s, sharing a dinner scene with Phil at a time when his career was at its peak.
In late May 1998, Brynn Hartman, who had been in and out of rehab, was struggling to overcome her addiction to drugs and alcohol, which worsened when combined with her antidepressants, which often led to violent outbursts.
On the evening of May 27, after returning home from a dinner with a friend, Brynn had a couple of drinks and appeared not visibly upset. However, a fight broke out between her and Phil, causing him to retreat to their bedroom.
Phil Hartman’s Death/ Brynn’s Murder Tragedy
Having acquired a small collection of guns when they moved back to Los Angeles, Brynn accessed a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from their metal lockbox in the closet around 2 a.m. While Phil slept in bed, dressed only in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, Brynn shot him multiple times in the head and chest, resulting in his immediate death.
An hour later, in a state of distress, Brynn called her friend Ron Douglas, informing him that Phil was out for the evening, leaving her a note saying he would return later. Despite Douglas advising her to go back to sleep, Brynn disregarded the suggestion.
Instead, she showed up at Douglas’ front door approximately 20 minutes later, reeking of alcohol and in a highly emotional state. Concerned for her well-being, Douglas allowed her into his home, where she promptly collapsed on the living room floor. Fearing a possible overdose, Douglas woke her up, and she proceeded to repeatedly vomit in the bathroom.
Throughout this time, Brynn confessed to him multiple times that she had killed her husband, even displaying the murder weapon, but Douglas mistakenly misinterpreted the number of bullets in the chamber and didn’t believe her.
As Brynn gradually sobered up, she insisted on being followed by Douglas while driving back home. During the journey, she confessed to her friend Judy, who took her admission seriously and rushed to the Hartman residence.
Brynn and Douglas arrived at the house first. Upon entering the Hartmans’ bedroom, Douglas was confronted with a horrific scene that confirmed Brynn’s unimaginable act. He immediately dialed 911 to report Phil Hartman’s murder.
Brynn’s friends, who had also arrived at the scene, focused on removing Sean, 9, and Birgen, 6, from the house. Sean described the gunshots he heard as resembling the sound of a repeatedly slamming door.
As the LAPD arrived, signaling the final chapter of the tragic event, Brynn barricaded herself in the bedroom, choosing to remain beside her deceased husband. Overwhelmed by the approaching authorities, she reached out to her sister in a final call. However, when the police banged on the door, Brynn abruptly ended the conversation with her sister and made the devastating decision to take her own life.
- After a fight with Phil Hartman, Brynn accessed a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from their collection and shot him multiple times while he slept in bed.
- Brynn confessed to friends about the murder, displaying the murder weapon, but her admission was not initially believed.
- When the police arrived, Brynn locked herself in the bedroom beside Phil’s body, called her sister, and ended the call before taking her own life as the authorities approached.
Who Was Phil Hartman?
Phil Hartman, an exceptionally versatile and talented comedian, left an indelible mark on the world of comedy. Unlike some of his larger-than-life counterparts, Hartman was an adaptable everyman who seamlessly portrayed original characters and flawlessly executed impressions of notable figures.
Despite his initial shyness, his journey into comedy began when he volunteered to perform on stage during a Groundlings troupe show in Los Angeles.
Hartman’s electrifying energy and undeniable talent left a lasting impression on the audience and the Groundlings members. Recognizing his remarkable abilities, they invited him to join their traveling troupe and encouraged him to take classes in Los Angeles.
His natural showmanship and exceptional writing skills became evident as he contributed to the creation of the beloved Pee-wee Herman character alongside Paul Reubens. Additionally, Hartman co-wrote the screenplay for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, showcasing his creativity and wit.
His fellow Groundlings and Saturday Night Live castmate, Jon Lovitz, described Hartman as an unparalleled force of imagination and versatility. Hartman possessed a remarkable ability to embody any voice, portray any character, and transform his appearance without the need for elaborate makeup. Within the Groundlings community, he reigned supreme as the epitome of comedic excellence.
What Was Phil’s Work Life Like?
In 1986, Phil Hartman became a pivotal member of the Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast when the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, returned as its leader. His arrival on SNL marked yet another triumph in Hartman’s career, as he captivated audiences with his original characters such as the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, and his impeccable impressions of prominent figures like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Charlton Heston, and Ed McMahon.
Throughout his tenure on SNL, which lasted until 1994, Hartman’s contributions as both a writer and performer earned him critical acclaim, including an Emmy win and a nomination.
Not only did Hartman shine on SNL, but he also became an integral part of the animated sitcom The Simpsons, lending his voice to a multitude of memorable characters, including the charismatic yet faded actor Troy McClure. Hartman’s versatility and comedic brilliance brought these characters to life, further cementing his status as a comedic powerhouse.
While his own variety series faced setbacks, Hartman found success by joining the cast of the sitcom NewsRadio. In this series, he portrayed an arrogant and clueless radio news anchor, showcasing his impeccable comedic timing and ability to create unforgettable characters.
Throughout his career, Phil Hartman’s remarkable talent and versatility propelled him to new heights of success, leaving an indelible mark on both sketch comedy and sitcoms.
His contributions to SNL, The Simpsons, and NewsRadio solidified his reputation as a comedic genius and secured his place among the most influential figures in comedy.
- Phil Hartman joined Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1986, becoming a pivotal member of the cast and captivating audiences with original characters and impeccable impressions of prominent figures.
- Hartman’s contributions on SNL earned him critical acclaim, including an Emmy win and a nomination, showcasing his talent as both a writer and performer.
- He further showcased his comedic brilliance by lending his voice to memorable characters on The Simpsons and portraying a clueless news anchor on the sitcom NewsRadio, solidifying his status as a comedic powerhouse in both sketch comedy and sitcoms.
What Was Phil’s Love Life Like?
Despite achieving immense success on-screen, Phil Hartman’s personal life was marked by its own set of challenges. While he experienced two brief marriages, one being with Douglas Iver Torfin, his off-stage demeanor often contrasted with his charismatic on-stage persona.
Known for his low-key nature, Hartman displayed a dual personality, oscillating between the creative, introspective individual who enjoyed drawing, writing, and generating ideas, and the more reclusive side of his personality.
Following his divorce from his second wife, Lisa Jarvis, Hartman found himself in a period of emotional vulnerability. However, it didn’t take long for him to meet Brynn Omdahl, who would become his third wife.
Brynn, a beautiful woman who had relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling and acting career, had encountered her own struggles in the competitive entertainment industry, leading to a battle with cocaine addiction. However, at the time of her introduction to Hartman through a blind date in 1986, she was in recovery and committed to maintaining her sobriety. The connection between them was strong, and they tied the knot just a year later.
Hartman’s relationships often began with great intensity, characterized by strong emotions and passionate connections. However, as time passed, these relationships would eventually fade away, as he was always drawn to new experiences and the allure of freshness.
Hartman had a keen eye for beauty and was constantly seeking inspiration in various aspects of life, mirroring the perspective of an artist.
Despite the initial optimism surrounding their marriage, the union between Hartman and Brynn would later face immense challenges. Their relationship became strained, and it would ultimately end in tragedy on May 28, 1998, when Brynn, in a devastating turn of events, took the life of her husband before taking her own.
Phil Hartman’s personal life, with its complexities and struggles, added a layer of profound tragedy to the narrative of his remarkable career. His ability to captivate audiences through his talent and comedic genius will forever be remembered, while the circumstances surrounding his untimely death serve as a stark reminder of the fragile nature of human existence.
- Phil Hartman’s personal life was marked by challenges despite his on-screen success.
- He had a dual personality, oscillating between a creative and introspective individual and a more reclusive side.
- His marriage to Brynn Omdahl, formerly Vicki Omdahl ended tragically when she took his life before taking her own.
Phil’s Kids- Who Were They?
Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn, were blessed with two children, a son named Sean and a daughter named Birgen. During the mid-1990s, Hartman expressed a deep sense of happiness to his loved ones, relishing in the joys of family life.
However, the stark disparity in their respective levels of success, coupled with Hartman’s introverted nature, began to strain their relationship and create challenges within their marriage.
Despite the difficulties they faced, Hartman remained devoted to his family and sought to find a balance between his career and personal life.
It is important to note that the events surrounding Brynn Hartman’s life and tragic actions should be approached with sensitivity and compassion. Mental health is a complex matter, and it is crucial to seek support and understanding for individuals who may be struggling.
Overall, Brynn Hartman’s story is a tragic reminder of the profound impact that mental health challenges and unresolved conflicts can have on individuals and their families. The Hartman family’s loss serves as a somber reminder of the importance of supporting and seeking help for those in need.