The Most Happy Fella

Phil Hartman's career was at a peak, then home life erupted violently

Behind all of Phil Hartman's characters lurked the same guy: uptight, inflated, slightly annoyed, but just self-aware enough to be in on the joke. In his personal life too, the longtime cast member of Saturday Night Live and NewsRadio seemed to be one of the few who appreciated the humor of celebrity, keeping his life in balance and low-key: a home in the unglamorous San Fernando Valley, a position as honorary sheriff in his town and a steady income from his TV show, small movie roles and voice-overs. So what happened early last Thursday morning--the day after the comic tested a...

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