Phil Hartman

Saturday Night Live has produced far too many legendary comedy actors and long, fruitful careers to lend its title to any kind of curse, but the iconic variety sketch series has seen tragedy befall a fair number of its alumni. And few tragedies were as shocking or heartbreaking as the death of Phil Hartman, who was shot to death in his sleep by his wife in the late night hours of May 28, 1998.

Hartman was an unlikely comedy star

Unlike late stars such as John Belushi and Chris Farley, who were larger than life, or Gilda Radner, who was an iconic original, Hartman was an adaptable everyman who layered subtle charm and smarm into original characters while nailing impressions of the rich, famous and powerful. A naturally shy person who was educated and had a successful run as a graphic designer, Hartman transitioned to comedy after volunteering to go on stage during a performance by the iconic Groundlings troupe in L.A.

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