The heartbreaking and tragic death of 'Jingle All The Way' star Phil Hartman

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By stefan armitage

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This festive season, many families will be gathering around the TV to watch some beloved Christmas favorites. At the top of my list: Jingle All The Way.

The 1996 movie sees workaholic father and lousy husband Howard Langston (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) race against the clock to secure the hottest toy of the season for his young son and avoid revealing that he's lied to his wife.

After neglecting his family - son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) and wife Liz (Rita Wilson) - for far too long, Howard's persistent neighbor, Ted (Phil Hartman), sees an opportunity to steal Liz away from him.

Like many of his on-screen roles, Hartman steals the scene every time he appears on screen.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Hartman were perfect opposites in Jingle All The Way. Credit: Getty

An unassuming everyman who had a perfect understanding of humor, Hartman appeared in some of TV and film's most beloved productions - such as Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and NewsRadio.

Sadly, Hartman's personal life was marred by misfortune, and on May 28, 1998, his life came to a tragic end.

Marital relationships came and went, and his quiet, introverted nature often clashed with his on-stage charisma.

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Credit: Ron Galella / Getty

"My sense of Phil was that he was really two people," observed his second wife, Lisa Jarvis told 20/20. "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."

Hartman's third marriage, to Brynn Omdahl, brought both happiness and turmoil. They shared two children, Sean and Birgen, and, at least initially, Hartman found joy in his family life. However, the vast disparity in their career successes and Hartman's reclusive tendencies began to strain their relationship.

"As the months go on, the cracks begin to show, and Phil does what he did with his last two relationships - he begins to withdraw emotionally," explained Thomas, a close friend.

On that tragic evening of May 27, 1998, Omdahl's struggles with addiction took a violent turn.

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Phil Hartman and Brynn Omdahl in 1998. Credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Earlier that evening, Omdahl - who had been in and out of rehab - had enjoyed dinner with a friend. Despite not seeming upset throughout the evening, and argument between Omdahl and Hartman ensued once she returned home.

Omdahl had been prone to violent outbursts when she mixed drugs and alcohol with her antidepressants.

Following an argument, Hartman retreated to the couple's bedroom. However, at around 2:00AM, Omdahl entered the room wielding a .38 Smith & Wesson and shot Hartman multiple times in the head and chest as he slept.

The beloved actor died instantly.

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Phil Hartman was killed in his sleep. Credit: Valerie Macon / Stringer / Getty

After continuing to drink, a hysterical Omdahl eventually called her friend, Ron Douglas. Omdahl seemingly attempted to fabricate a story that Hartman had gone out of the evening. Despite telling Omdahl to try and get some sleep, she instead showed up at Douglas' front door 20 minutes later.

While inside Douglas' home, Omdahl repeatedly confessed to killing Hartman - but due to the state she was in, Douglas did not immediately believe her.

After sobering up, Omdahl drove home, with Douglas following closely behind. On the way, she called her friend Judy and once again confessed to killing Hartman.

Concerned for her friends, Judy also made her way to the couple's home.

When Omdahl and Douglas arrived at the property and entered the bedroom, he promptly called 911 to alert the authorities. When Judy arrived, the couple's two children - Sean, 9, and Birgen, 6 - were removed from the home.

Further tragedy ensued when the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the property.

With the police approaching, Omdahl locked herself in the bedroom and sat on the bed next to Hartman's body. She then made a phone call to her sister.

When officers started banging on the bedroom door, Omdahl hung up on her sister and took her own life.

With the entertainment world mourning the loss of such an incredible talent, Mike Scully, executive producer of The Simpsons, remembered his late friend in an interview with the LA Times.

"This is a tragedy in so many ways," Scully said. "Phil was just tremendous fun to work with. The minute he said hello, you were laughing."

One of his last roles was that of Phil Fimple in 1998's Small Soldiers. They honored the legendary actor with a touching post-credit vignette doing what he did best... making people laugh.

Featured image credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

The heartbreaking and tragic death of 'Jingle All The Way' star Phil Hartman

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

This festive season, many families will be gathering around the TV to watch some beloved Christmas favorites. At the top of my list: Jingle All The Way.

The 1996 movie sees workaholic father and lousy husband Howard Langston (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) race against the clock to secure the hottest toy of the season for his young son and avoid revealing that he's lied to his wife.

After neglecting his family - son Jamie (Jake Lloyd) and wife Liz (Rita Wilson) - for far too long, Howard's persistent neighbor, Ted (Phil Hartman), sees an opportunity to steal Liz away from him.

Like many of his on-screen roles, Hartman steals the scene every time he appears on screen.

size-full wp-image-1263241983
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Hartman were perfect opposites in Jingle All The Way. Credit: Getty

An unassuming everyman who had a perfect understanding of humor, Hartman appeared in some of TV and film's most beloved productions - such as Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and NewsRadio.

Sadly, Hartman's personal life was marred by misfortune, and on May 28, 1998, his life came to a tragic end.

Marital relationships came and went, and his quiet, introverted nature often clashed with his on-stage charisma.

size-full wp-image-1263241984
Credit: Ron Galella / Getty

"My sense of Phil was that he was really two people," observed his second wife, Lisa Jarvis told 20/20. "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."

Hartman's third marriage, to Brynn Omdahl, brought both happiness and turmoil. They shared two children, Sean and Birgen, and, at least initially, Hartman found joy in his family life. However, the vast disparity in their career successes and Hartman's reclusive tendencies began to strain their relationship.

"As the months go on, the cracks begin to show, and Phil does what he did with his last two relationships - he begins to withdraw emotionally," explained Thomas, a close friend.

On that tragic evening of May 27, 1998, Omdahl's struggles with addiction took a violent turn.

size-full wp-image-1263241985
Phil Hartman and Brynn Omdahl in 1998. Credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Earlier that evening, Omdahl - who had been in and out of rehab - had enjoyed dinner with a friend. Despite not seeming upset throughout the evening, and argument between Omdahl and Hartman ensued once she returned home.

Omdahl had been prone to violent outbursts when she mixed drugs and alcohol with her antidepressants.

Following an argument, Hartman retreated to the couple's bedroom. However, at around 2:00AM, Omdahl entered the room wielding a .38 Smith & Wesson and shot Hartman multiple times in the head and chest as he slept.

The beloved actor died instantly.

size-full wp-image-1263241986
Phil Hartman was killed in his sleep. Credit: Valerie Macon / Stringer / Getty

After continuing to drink, a hysterical Omdahl eventually called her friend, Ron Douglas. Omdahl seemingly attempted to fabricate a story that Hartman had gone out of the evening. Despite telling Omdahl to try and get some sleep, she instead showed up at Douglas' front door 20 minutes later.

While inside Douglas' home, Omdahl repeatedly confessed to killing Hartman - but due to the state she was in, Douglas did not immediately believe her.

After sobering up, Omdahl drove home, with Douglas following closely behind. On the way, she called her friend Judy and once again confessed to killing Hartman.

Concerned for her friends, Judy also made her way to the couple's home.

When Omdahl and Douglas arrived at the property and entered the bedroom, he promptly called 911 to alert the authorities. When Judy arrived, the couple's two children - Sean, 9, and Birgen, 6 - were removed from the home.

Further tragedy ensued when the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the property.

With the police approaching, Omdahl locked herself in the bedroom and sat on the bed next to Hartman's body. She then made a phone call to her sister.

When officers started banging on the bedroom door, Omdahl hung up on her sister and took her own life.

With the entertainment world mourning the loss of such an incredible talent, Mike Scully, executive producer of The Simpsons, remembered his late friend in an interview with the LA Times.

"This is a tragedy in so many ways," Scully said. "Phil was just tremendous fun to work with. The minute he said hello, you were laughing."

One of his last roles was that of Phil Fimple in 1998's Small Soldiers. They honored the legendary actor with a touching post-credit vignette doing what he did best... making people laugh.

Featured image credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty