Mourning for Phil Hartman

When Phil Hartman was killed, I had no idea who he was. My knowledge of celebrities is rather piecemeal. For instance, I could tell you about Warhol's Udo Kier, but I didn't, for the longest time, have a clue who Jennifer Lopez was. Except she dated Ben Affleck, and I didn't know who he was either.

So Phil Hartman was killed, and I thought it was sad, but that's about all.

Then, about two years later, I got into the habit of watching Newsradio during my lunch hour. A half-hour of chuckles really sets you up for the rest of the day, and I love the kind of straight-man comedy that Dave Foley pulls off. And is anything more adorable than Stephen Root? He's one of those actors who makes me laugh just by showing up on the screen. Actually, that entire cast was great. Led, of course, by the marvelous Phil Hartman. Except that the name didn't register right away.

And then one day I was watching Kiki's Delivery Service and what do you know, the cat's voice is Phil Hartman's. And suddenly I realized this is the guy. And I went into mourning. Seriously. Maybe that doesn't strike many people as odd, but I don't usually get bowled over by celebrity mishaps. When Princess Diana died, my main thought was, "Well, she won't be in the news that much anymore" (I was wrong). But Phil Hartman's death was a real blow. I started thinking about the animation voices he might have done, sitcoms he could have been in. It was a real wrench.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Newsradio in a while, and you want to put on a black armband and laugh yourself sick over the great Phil Hartman, Seasons 1 and 2 are out on DVD. Here's a representative clip from"Smoking":
June 2005

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