Wikipedia:Today's featured article/June 8, 2011

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Phil Hartman in character as Chick Hazard, Private Eye, c. 1978

Phil Hartman (1948–1998) was a Canadian-born American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and graphic artist. Born in Brantford, Ontario, Hartman and his family moved to the United States when he was ten. After graduating from California State University, Northridge with a degree in graphic arts, he designed album covers for bands such as Poco and America. Hartman joined the comedy group The Groundlings in 1975 and there helped comedian Paul Reubens develop his character Pee-wee Herman. Hartman co-wrote the screenplay for the film Pee-wee's Big Adventure and made recurring appearances on Reubens' show Pee-wee's Playhouse. Hartman became well-known in the late 1980s when he joined the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He won fame for his impressions, particularly of President Bill Clinton, and stayed on the show for eight seasons. In 1995, after scrapping plans for his own variety show, he starred as Bill McNeal in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio. He also had frequent roles on The Simpsons as Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure, and others. On May 28, 1998, Hartman was shot and killed by his wife while he slept in their California home. In the weeks following his death, Hartman was celebrated in a wave of tributes. Dan Snierson of Entertainment Weekly opined that Hartman was "the last person you'd expect to read about in lurid headlines in your morning paper ... a decidedly regular guy, beloved by everyone he worked with". (more...)

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