In a new two-part tribute on their Fly on the Wall podcast, the duo united with Hartman's former 'Saturday Night Live' colleagues to share brilliant stories about their late friend
He was living in Los Angeles where he’d just finished filming the fourth season of the NBC comedy NewsRadio, voicing several different Simpsons characters (including fan favorite Troy McClure), and enjoying life as a dad to son Sean, 9, and daughter Birgen, 6.
On weekends, when he wasn't sailing, golfing, flying his single-engine plane or scuba diving, he was hanging with good friends, like his former SNL costar Dana Carvey.
“We’d jam out together in the garage,” Carvey, 68, recently told PEOPLE of making music with his longtime pal, who was also an accomplished jazz musician and a graphic designer.
Then, in May of 1998, the unthinkable happened when, after an argument, Hartman's wife Brynn shot him as he slept, and then shot herself. The shocking murder-suicide rocked Hollywood, especially those who knew and loved him.
Now, in honor of Hartman's amazing life and career, Dana Carvey and David Spade are releasing a two-part special on their Fly on the Wall podcast, which is produced by Audacy and dedicated to all things SNL.
The duo decided to launch the two-part special mainly because so many of their regular guests would reminisce about Phil when they were on talking about their time on the show.
The first part of the podcast special (both parts were released today, Sept. 27) was taped at the famed Groundlings Theatre in L.A., and featured former SNL stars Julia Sweeney, Kevin Nealon and writer Jim Downey. The second part featured Ferrell, Hader, Baldwin, Mike Myers, Conan O'Brien, Jon Lovitz, Robert Smigel and Cheri Oteri.
Listen to an exclusive clip of Mike Myers remembering Phil Hartman on Fly on the Wall
On the podcast, Myers, 60, remembers how Hartman improved everything he touched.
“Phil was [at SNL] for five of the six years that I was there, he left in my last year, I believe. He was in ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer,’ which was fun and … just brilliant,” he told Carvey and Spade. “He did what Phil always did with anything, which is make it better than written.”
Spade tells PEOPLE, “Everyone remembers how great he was. He could be the game show host or the lead, or he could do those thankless parts — like the elevator man or the dad — and just come through with the extra laughs. You could give him Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, which is such a weird part, and then you’d watch him do it and be so weirdly hysterical.”
“His range was extraordinary,” adds Carvey. “That’s why he was called ‘the Glue.’”
Listen to an exclusive clip of Conan O'Brien remembering Phil Hartman on Fly on the Wall
As a colleague, Spade says, he admired that Hartman “was the kind of guy who could leave work at work.
“When I first started at SNL, I’d be there all the time because I was crazy and I didn’t want to go anywhere, but he wasn’t nuts like that. He would come in with his briefcase and read his fishing or boating magazines and be a gentleman with everyone. Then he’d read a script, be like, ‘Okay, let’s go,’” he continues. “Then he’d kill it, say something like, ‘Okay, guys, see you tomorrow,’ and walk out with his briefcase and go home. That’s what you want to be at some point. He had that figured out.”
Carvey says Hartman “wasn’t a show business person at all,” adding, “He was fascinating. His brain [was] so big, and he just had such a broad spectrum of intellect.”
Hartman was also a devoted dad. In 1995, he told PEOPLE that he loved working on NewsRadio because he could have a much more normal family life than his previous SNL hours allowed.
Carvey remains close with Hartman’s two children, who grew up out of the spotlight with Brynn’s sister after the death of their parents. They confirmed that his daughter Birgen was in the audience while the tribute shows were taped.
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While still mourning their friend, who would have turned 75 this year, Carvey and Spade recognize one silver lining: “He left such a great body of work behind,” Spade says. “And that can always be revisited.”
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