Hollywood stunned by comic's death

THE acting community in Hollywood was reeling last night from the violent death of one of their best-loved brethren, Phil Hartman, in an apparent suicide-murder incident that also took the life of his wife, Brynn.

Mr Hartman, 49, who first achieved national fame through his impersonations of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter on Saturday Night Live, was found dead his home in the Encino neighbourhood of Los Angeles early yesterday morning after Los Angeles police entered the home in response to an emergency 911 telephone call.

It was while the officers were in the house and evacuating two young children, believed to be the Hartmans', that a second gunshot was heard in a bedroom. It is believed that shot was fired by Mrs Hartman.

The Los Angeles police department said an investigation was only just under way. It was widely assumed, however, that Mrs Hartman was responsible for killing her husband some hours before the arrival of the officers and had then taken her own life.

"We are investigating this as a possible murder," Lieutenant Anthony Alba said. "We know for sure that the female inflicted her own gunshot wound. She shot herself as police were removing the second child from the home. Mr Hartman had been dead for a while."

Newscasts were last night airing footage of police officers carrying a young girl, with tousled blond hair and still in her night clothes, out of the house and down the street to an awaiting ambulance. The Hartmans had two children, a boy aged nine and a girl who is six.

Though not widely known outside of the United States, Mr Hartman, had progressed to becoming one of American television's most popular comedy stars. Since 1995, he has starred as the vain and self-obsessed Bill McNeill in a weekly NBC sitcom called News Radio.

Despite recent clashes between Mr Hartman, and network executives over its scheduling in prime-time, News Radio has consistently ranked as one of NBC's most successful sitcoms and was recently renewed for a new season by the network. Other NBC hits include Friends and Frazier.

There were no clues last night as to what might have happened between Mr Hartman and his wife to have brought on such violence.

Money was surely not a problem. Mr Hartman recently boasted that he had made more money through commercials and endorsements than from the whole run of News Radio.

A neighbour and friend of Mrs Hartman, Sue Kaplow, said she had had no indications of domestic tension. "She left a really happy message yesterday. Everything was fine. We left each other little messages all of the time."

It is not the first time that tragedy has marked veterans of Saturday Night Live. In 1982, John Belushi was found dead aged just 33 after a drugs overdose. And just last month Chris Farley, also an SNL alumnus, also died at 33 from drugs abuse. Like Mr Farley, Mr Hartman was Canadian- born but grew up in the United States where he based his career.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas