Philip Edward Hartman was a Canadian-American screenwriter, actor, comedian, and graphic designer. He was born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and moved to the United States with his family when he was ten. He designed album covers for bands such as Poco and America after graduating from California State University, Northridge, with a degree in graphic arts. Did you know why Phil Hartman was called The Glue?
Phil Hartman was called “The Glue” by Saturday Night Live because his professionalism and comedy skills held many sketches together.
The Volunteering Comedian
Unlike late stars like John Belushi and Chris Farley, who were larger-than-life characters, or Gilda Radner, an iconic original, Hartman was an adaptable everyman. He layered subtle charm and smarm into original characters while nailing impressions of the rich, famous, and powerful. Hartman, a naturally shy person who was educated and had a successful career as a graphic designer, switched to comedy after volunteering to go on stage during a performance by the legendary Groundlings troupe in Los Angeles.
I never saw an audience member come up with that kind of excitement and energy…it was like a hurricane hit that stage, and I mean in a good way.Tracy Newman, Founding Member of The Groundlings
Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live
In 1986, Hartman joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, regained control. With original characters like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and hit impressions of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Charlton Heston, and Ed McMahon, Hartman was an instant success there, too.
By the time he left SNL in 1994, he’d won an Emmy as a writer, been nominated for another as a performer, and was widely regarded as the show’s most important cast member. Hartman was also a regular on The Simpsons, where he voiced various characters, including B-movie star Troy McClure. (Source: Biography)
The Comedian’s Love Life
Despite his on-screen success, Hartman’s personal life was more difficult. He was married twice, once between 1970 and 1972 and again between 1982 and 1985. His charisma on stage, however, did not always translate into an energetic, gregarious personality off-stage. Hartman was known for being quiet, almost to a fault.
My sense of Phil was that he was really two people, “He was the guy who wanted to draw and write and think and create and come up with ideas. He was the actor [and] entertainer, and then he was the recluse.Lisa Jarvis, Phil Hartman’s Wife
After his divorce from Jarvis, it didn’t take long for Hartman to meet Brynn Omdahl, who would become his third wife.
His relationships would always start out very intensely — intense emotionality, sexuality — and then they would inevitably peter out,” his biographer, I mean, with Phil, he was always on the hunt for the new, the fresh, and he had an artist’s eye for beauty.Mike Rogers, Phil Hartman’s Biographer
Brynn was stunning, having relocated to Los Angeles to work as a model and pursue an acting career. She developed a cocaine addiction while struggling in the cutthroat world of entertainment. In 1986, however, she was in recovery and sober when she was set up on a blind date with Hartman. A year later, the couple married. (Source: Biography)
Image from Salon