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Philip Edward Hartmann was born on September 24, 1948 in Brantford, Ontario. He was born "Hartmann" but later dropped the second "n". As the son of Rupert and Doris Hartmann, Phil was a very caring and sensitive person and was described as "very sweet and kind of quiet." Although he was born in Canada, the family left when Phil was young and he spent the majority of his childhood in Connecticut and Southern California. He originally studied Graphic Design at California State University and designed album covers for such bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
In 1975, Phil joined the comedy troupe The Groundlings in California, and realized that he had a knack for comedy. The Groundlings is where he met Paul Rubens, who became a best friend throughout his entire career. Together, they created the character, "Pee Wee Herman". Phil also met friend Jon Lovitz while with The Groundlings. In 1986, Phil joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" (1975) and became an instant favorite. He was on the show for 8 seasons, which was the record he and Kevin Nealon shared until Tim Meadows broke it with 9.
In 1995, Phil left SNL and went to star in the critically acclaimed show, "NewsRadio" (1995). He portrayed the cocky, arrogant, radio host, Bill McNeal. Phil also did movies such as Houseguest (1995), Jingle All The Way (1996), Greedy (1994) and Small Soldiers (1998). Phil died on May 28th, 1998 in his Encino, California home. He was shot by his wife, Brynn Hartman, who then shot herself later that morning. They leave behind two children, Sean Edward (who was 9 when Phil died) and Birgen (who was 6). His ashes were spread upon Catalina Island, just off the coast off California, which was Phil's favorite vacation spot.