Over two decades after Phil Hartman was tragically shot and killed by his wife, the beloved comedian’s brother-in-law has opened up about the aftermath of the infamous murder-suicide.
On the morning of May 28, 1998, the comedian, best known for his routines on “Saturday Night Live” and voice-acting for “The Simpsons,” was killed in his sleep by his wife, Brynn, in their home in Los Angeles. Brynn, who had long struggled with drug addiction, was reportedly under the influence of cocaine at the time, according to Hollywood Life.
She later took her own life that same morning.
Even more tragically, the comedian’s two children, then ages 9 and 6, were in the house at the time of the shootings.
News of the murder left Hartman’s fans stunned, unable to comprehend the depth of family tragedy connected to the charming impersonations and jokes that had gained Hartman a reputation as one of the greatest SNL comedians of all time.
Now, Brynn’s brother Greg Omdahl has shared how the couple’s deaths and following media frenzy impacted those they left behind.
“I’ve lost a sister that was such a wonderful person and a brother-in-law who was wonderful,” Omdahl said during a two-hour ABC special called “The Last Days of Phil Hartman.”
“It was like getting punched in the gut.”
Omdahl said that his family was as stunned as everyone else to discover the truth behind his sister’s troubled marriage, although Brynn had confided to him several times about her struggles.
“I think everyone was in shock in the family,” he said, “and cannot imagine why she would do that.”
Omdahl revealed that the couple had been dealing with conflict for some time, as Brynn wrestled with addiction and struggled to be a part of her husband’s world.
The ABC special also features home movies that Omdahl shared from the years leading up to the murder. The footage shows a side of Hartman that no one outside his inner circle had ever seen: happy memories of time spent with his children.
“What makes me the happiest? Well, without question it’s being a father,” the comedian says in one clip.
After the deaths of their parents, Hartman’s children, Sean and Birgen, were raised by Omdahl and Brynn’s sister.
The couple’s tragic story offers a haunting portrait of the impact of addiction on an otherwise seemingly picture-perfect family. In spite of his heartbreaking death, however, Phil Hartman’s legacy lives on, as he is remembered as a brilliant comic who brought laughter to millions.
“He is still loved and greatly missed,” one user wrote on Twitter after the ABC special aired.
No matter how much time passes, Hartman’s memory won’t be forgotten.