Phil Hartman Death: How Did the Comedian Die & Who Killed Him?


Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of murder. Reader discretion is advised.

On May 28, 1998, authorities discovered the lifeless bodies of comedian Phil Hartman and his third wife, Brynn Hartman, in their Encino, California, home. Reports indicate that the killer shot the star two times in the head and once in his ride side. Soon, police found that the comedian was shot to death by his wife, Brynn, who then shot herself.

People Magazine reported that Brynn Hartman visited her friend’s house after killing Phil Hartman and told him about the entire incident. Afterward, Brynn, along with her friend, went to her house and discovered Phil Hartman’s body. Subsequently, Brynn’s friend contacted the police. However, Brynn locked herself in the bedroom, where she killed Phil and acquired a second gun. As soon as the police officers entered the house, Brynn killed herself by shooting herself in the mouth while lying next to her husband. At the time, their two children – Sean and Birgen – were sleeping in their rooms.

Investigators found that the killer shot Phil Hartman with a .38 handgun at close range. According to People magazine, the comedian died almost instantly from his gunshot wounds. After the murder-suicide, the investigators sent Brynn Hartman’s body for an autopsy and found that she had an alcohol level of .12 percent in her system. Citing the toxicology report, CNN stated that the report found traces of cocaine and anti-depressant Zoloft in her blood. As per the coroner, Brynn had taken cocaine about five hours before her death. The coroner said, “Between the cocaine and alcohol, the two of them most definitely intensified the other’s effects. The Zoloft is kind of a wild card.”

Phil Hartman’s death shocked the entire entertainment industry and their loved ones. Although some believed that marital problems might have been the reason for Brynn’s actions, a lawsuit filed by the couple’s estate claimed that Zoloft pushed her to kill her husband and herself.

Phil Hartman wife: What did Brynn Hartman do?

As mentioned above, Brynn Hartman used a 0.38 handgun to kill her husband, Phil Hartman. People Magazine reported that the tension between the couple started building a day prior to the murder-suicide. The outlet stated that Brynn had met her friend in an Italian bistro. However, as soon as she reached home, Phil and Brynn had a heated argument. During the argument, the comedian warned that he would end their relationship if she started taking drugs again. According to his friend, the couple often had heated arguments, but things would be fine by morning.

However, things turned from bad to worse after the argument, and Brynn killed her husband. Citing a book excerpt from You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman, Salon reported that Brynn took the handgun and fired the first shot from her side of the bed. Subsequently, she shot him two more times. As per the book, one bullet hit the right side of Phil’s neck, while the second entered through his right forearm, exited, and then re-entered his right lower chest. Meanwhile, Brynn fired the third shot “at point-blank or nearly point-blank range” and passed through his skull and brain.

After the incident, Brynn Hartman visited her friend and told him that she had killed Phil. Initially, her friend believed that she fought with Phil and was being “hysterical”. However, her friend saw Phil Hartman’s dead body on the bed as soon as he and Brynn reached the Hartman residence.

The outlet says, “Oh, my God, he’s dead! I told you I did! I killed him!” Subsequently, she locks herself in the bedroom right before the police arrive and calls her sister. Citing the book, Salon noted that Brynn told her sister to take care of her children before killing herself. The publication quoted, “Take care of my children. Just let them know how much I love them.”

Following their deaths, Brynn Hartman’s sister raised Sean and Birgen, per People Magazine. In 2019, a report by ABC News reported that Sean was pursuing his dream of becoming a musician and an artist. On the other hand, Birgen began her own business. According to her LinkedIn, Birgen works as a Certified Consent Culture Educator with SafeBae. Birgen is also quite active on social media and keeps posting pictures on her Instagram. In 2016, she posted a black-and-white photo of her father, Phil Hartman, and wished him a Happy Father’s Day. She captioned the photo, “This dapper dude will always have my heart.”

While attending the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons, Birgen Hartman noted how great it was to see people talking about her father’s legacy. She told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s great that people still love and remember my dad’s characters on The Simpsons. Even after 20-plus years, I still see people quoting Lionel Hutz or sharing Troy McClure memes. The fact that those characters have carried themselves into the modern day and have remained relevant is just so cool to see, and I think my dad would have been proud of that.”

The documentary The Last Days of Phil Hartman explores why Brynn took the drastic decision to kill her husband. The documentary is available to stream on ABC Network.


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