The man behind the laughter: ‘SNL,’ ‘Simpsons’ star Phil Hartman’s life off-screen before his violent death

Phil Hartman is known by generations of Americans for his comedic genius, from his roles on “Saturday Night Live,” “NewsRadio” and “The Simpsons.”

Hartman, it seemed, had achieved the American dream; in about two decades, he had perfected his craft and built a family. But in 1998, he was violently killed at the hands of his wife.

“I think in my old age, I’ve come to realize just how precious everything is and I try to value the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me,” Hartman reflected in a 1998 interview. “But there’s also this sense of vulnerability if fortune took a turn for the worse, and that you live with the awareness that anything could happen in this world.”

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