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Monday, June 1, 1998 Published at 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK


Friends pay tribute to murdered comic

A grieving friend is escorted from the Hartman family home after last week's shooting

The usually light-hearted MTV Movie Awards was overshadowed by the death, in an apparent murder-suicide, of comedian Phil Hartman.

Hartman was a household name in the United States, who first found fame on Saturday Night Live and at the time of his death was co-starring in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio.

His voice was known to millions as the voices of B-film star Troy McClure and lawyer Lionel Hutz on the cult cartoon series The Simpsons.

[ image: Phil Hartman...voice known to millions]
Phil Hartman...voice known to millions
Mike Myers, star of the spy spoof film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, paid tribute to Hartman, who was shot dead by his wife Brynn who then took her own life at their Los Angeles home last Thursday.

'One of the greatest character comedians'

Myers dedicated his award for best villain to Hartman, describing him as a "a very good friend of mine. . . who is one of the greatest character comedians ever".

But Myers, who starred in Wayne's World after finding fame alongside Hartman on Saturday Night Live, also praised Brynn Hartmann as "a wonderful person and a wonderful mother".

It has been revealed Mrs Hartmann shot him several times around 2am and left his body on their blood-stained bed before going to a male friend's house to confess.

Committed suicide

She returned to her home with the friend before committing suicide.

The Los Angeles Times said Mrs Hartman, 40, was virtually incoherent and her friend, who has not been named, initially did not believe her.

But when she fell asleep he checked her handbag and found a gun which he confiscated.

The newspaper said when they returned to the house she locked herself in the bedroom with the body of her 49-year-old husband.

The friend called the emergencies around about 6.20 am and was escorting the Hartmans' nine-year-old son, Sean, out of the house when police arrived.

Gunshot rang out

As the officers led the couple's six-year-old daughter, Birgen, to safety a gunshot rang out. The comedian's wife was found with a fatal head injury.

Another newspaper claimed Mrs Hartman had become distraught on the night of the shooting when she read a note from her husband which implied he wanted to end the marriage.

The reports claimed he was having a relationship with another woman.

Los Angeles police refused to say if the newspaper reports were accurate.

Steven Small, a lawyer and close friend of the twice-divorced comic, said: "They had a pattern of arguing at night, and he would go to sleep and everything would be OK in the morning."

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