Saturday Night Live’ comic Phil Hartman and wife shot to death

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comic actor Phil Hartman of “Saturday Night Live” and “NewsRadio” was shot to death at his home, apparently by his wife, who then killed herself Thursday while police were inside investigating.
Police could offer no motive for what they described as a possible murder-suicide inside the $1.4 million, eight-room Encino mansion of the comedian known for his anchorman’s voice, his comically smug, insincere grin, and his impressions of President Clinton and Ed McMahon.
Police had gone to the home after getting an early morning 911 call about a gunshot. They were removing Hartman’s two children — a 9-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl — for their safety when they heard a shot in the master bedroom, police said.
There, they discovered the bodies of Hartman, 49, and his wife, Brynn Hartman, 40. The actor had been dead “for a while,” said police spokesman Lt. Anthony Alba.
Hollywood expressed shock and sadness, saying Hartman’s specialty in playing annoying, acerbic, morally challenged characters ran counter to his real-life personality as an upbeat, devoted family man.
Born Philip Edward Hartman in Ontario, Canada, Hartman was one in a line of Canadian-born comedians to find success in the United States, including the late John Candy and “SNL” veteran Dan Aykroyd.
In 1986, he joined the “Saturday Night Live” cast that then included Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller and Dana Carvey. In his seven seasons, he did impersonations of upwards of 70 famous people, including McMahon, Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, Phil Donahue and Frank Sinatra.
“NewsRadio” came along in 1995, with Hartman playing the vain anchor Bill McNeal. The show was a critical favorite but was bounced around NBC’s schedule and had trouble finding an audience.
“NewsRadio” had several brushes with cancellation, and it was somewhat surprising when NBC announced last week it would come back for another season.
Hartman also did voices for “The Simpsons.”
As his TV career moved along, Hartman turned to the big screen in supporting, comic roles in such movies as “Jingle All the Way” and “Coneheads,” and he was seen as a rising star.