Phil Hartman (September 24, 1948 -- May 28, 1998) was an immensely talented Canadian-born comedian and actor famous for starring on Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1994 , for his guest appearances on The Simpsons as incompetent attorney Lionel Hutz and washed-up B-movie actor Troy McClure, and for starring as Bill McNeal on the sitcom News Radio.
Hartman has been consistently praised as one of SNL's best performers. His celebrity impressions included Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, Ed McMahon, Kirk Douglas, Barbara Bush and Bill Clinton. His original characters included Eugene the Anal-Retentive Chef and The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. His ability to adapt to any performance earned him the nickname "Glue" from co-star Adam Sandler.
On May 28, 1998, while he was still sleeping, Hartman was shot to death by his wife Brynn, who was under the influence of drugs and killed herself shortly afterward.
The outpouring of sympathy was immense. Simpsons creator Matt Groening had Hartman's characters Hutz and McClure retired from The Simpsons, named Futurama protagonist Phillip J. Fry in honor of Hartman, and News Radio pressed on one more season, this time with his friend Jon Lovitz, before being cancelled, because as his castmates put it, "Phil would've wanted us to."
- Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
- Three Amigos (1986)
- The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
- Coneheads (1993)
- So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
- Houseguest (1995)
- Sgt Bilko (1996)
- Jingle All the Way (1996)
- Small Soldiers (1998) - Posthumously released, dedicated to Hartman.
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1998) - Also dedicated to Hartman.
Tropes applying to Phil Hartman:
- He Also Did: He designed the logo for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: He played many Jerkass characters (often for laughs), but was one of the gentlest souls around, which makes his sudden murder even more tragic.
- The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer: Trope Namer.
- What Could Have Been: He was going to play Zapp Brannigan on Futurama, but died before working on it. As mentioned above, Groening gave Fry the first name "Phillip" in honor of Hartman, and Billy West based his portrayal of Brannigan on Hartman's mannerisms.