Whatever Happened To Phil Hartman's Children?

The following article includes references to a murder-suicide, addiction, and child abuse.

Known largely for his nearly decade-long run on "Saturday Night Live," his role as Bill McNeal in "NewsRadio," and various voices lent to "The Simpsons," comedian Phil Hartman's short career was also packed with work. Not long before his shocking death in 1998, the star opened up about his successful life at just shy of 50 years old. "I think in my old age, I've come to realize just how precious everything is and I try to value the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me," Hartman said in an unnamed interview (via ABC News). "But there's also this sense of vulnerability if fortune took a turn for the worse, and that you live with the awareness that anything could happen in this world."

Unfortunately, his fortune did take such a tragic turn on May 28 of that year, when he was murdered by his third wife, Brynn Hartman, before she took her own life. Per Biography, Brynn's anger issues and history of substance abuse reportedly contributed to what was a rocky marriage, though the motive for the murder-suicide is still unknown

The couple's two young children, Sean and Birgen Hartman, were left orphaned by the tragedy, which has long spurred fans to wonder what happened to the Hartman kids? Let's find out.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Being a dad was Phil Hartman's favorite thing

In footage viewers hadn't seen until over two decades following his death, Phil Hartman revealed, "What makes me the happiest ... without question, it's being a father" (via "20/20"). The series' 2019 special, "The Last Days of Phil Hartman," brought the comedian back into the limelight, with those who knew and loved him speaking up in the two-hour television spot. In addition to seeing Hartman speak about fatherhood, footage from never-before-seen home videos also featured in the episode, according to Inside Edition, and included the star playing games like Simon Says with his young children, and friends and family noting what "loving parents" he and Brynn Hartman were.

While Phil Hartman's children aren't known to talk about their late father much in public, his only daughter, Birgen Anika Hartman, does mention her dad on social media from time to time — and it seems clear that his kiddos felt that love while their parents were still alive. One such occasion was Father's Day 2016, when Birgen posted a rare photo of her dad on Instagram, writing in part, "I remind myself that no matter what, I'm very fortunate to have had a number of great father figures in my life. but this dapper dude will always have my heart."

The Hartman children were home when their parents died

Adding to the tragedy surrounding the murder of Phil Hartman was the fact that both of his children were in the house when it happened. According to the Los Angeles Times, son Sean Hartman was seen running out of the house when officers arrived on the scene in late May 1998. The newspaper also noted that as Birgen Hartman was escorted out by authorities, they heard the gunshot that presumably killed Brynn Hartman. At the time, Sean was 9, and Birgen was 6.

Phil's brother, John Hartman, raced to the family home after hearing about the shooting and found the two children being tended to by the responding cops, he told CBS Los Angeles in 2013. "They had no idea what was going on," John explained. "No idea whatsoever. When Sean said, 'What are we doing here?' I decided in that instant that I would never lie to them. And I just said, 'Sean, mommy and daddy are dead.'" Understandably, both kids began to cry over their shocking loss, as John recounted.

Equally understandably, Birgen doesn't tend to say much about what happened that day on social media, but she did publicly mark the 19th anniversary in 2017. Captioning a snapshot of yellow roses and a note she received from a loved one, she expressed gratitude for the support on Instagram, writing in part, "It truly means the world to me, and my parents would be so happy to know that such a supportive community still exists for us after all these years."

Sean and Birgen Hartman were raised by extended family

Talking to CBS Los Angeles about the tragic murder of his famous older brother, Phil Hartman, John Hartman told the outlet that the star's two children, who were left orphaned, went to live in the Midwest with their aunt on mom Brynn Hartman's side. John also revealed that Sean and Birgen Hartman lived under another last name when they were taken in by Katherine (Brynn's sister) and her husband, Michael Wright, for privacy purposes. According to Volume One, the children and their new guardians reportedly spent some of that time living in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before making a move to Edina, Minnesota.

Phil and wife Brynn's will assigned Katherine as their children's guardian, in addition to $50,000 for raising them, according court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The paper further stated that the will also gave the Wrights permission to access Sean and Birgen's trust fund to hire childcare help and relocate into a bigger house, if necessary. Per a CNN report from May 1998, the Wrights did not have children before taking up the guardianship of the Hartman children.

Phil Hartman's estate was left to his children

Technically, Phil Hartman's estate was left to his wife, but after his and Brynn Hartman's deaths, everything was actually left to their children, Sean and Birgen Hartman, per the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper went on to say that the March 1996 will stipulated that the Hartman kids would not have access to their inheritance until they turned 25 or earned their bachelor degrees. According to AP News, the estate was worth, at the time, roughly $1.23 million. The outlet further explained that the inheritance was divided in a way that Sean and Birgen would receive one-third upon college graduation or at age 25, half of the remaining amount at 30 years old, and then whatever was left over of that balance five years later.

At some point, the Hartman estate was cooperating with filmmakers to create a biopic about Phil starring Daran Norris. According to Variety, filming for "Nice Guy Phil" was supposed to begin in 2016, though it seems like the project itself got stuck or fizzled out, as nothing has come of it since. In 2015, producer Tyler Levine told Variety, "Comedians are notoriously complex people and Phil was no exception. Anyone that knew him always says that he was the nicest guy they ever met."

Birgen Hartman is a big-hearted trendsetter

According to Yahoo! News, Birgen Hartman has a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism. Prior to attending the University of St. Thomas, she'd graduated from Edina High School in 2010 and was even once a teen trendsetter at the Mall of America. Each of the members of the mall's "Trend Board" put together looks that represented what they saw as in style for the 2009 prom (via the StarTribune). Birgen, who wasn't even old enough to go to her high school's prom at the time, told the paper she was hoping to go with a senior (as only seniors attend prom at Edina H.S.). On the topic of prom style, she told the StarTribune, "One-shoulder dresses. I think they look very elegant and flattering on almost everyone. Also, no one should be color-shy. Bold is beautiful."

In addition to her studies and an interest in fashion, take one glimpse at Birgen's Instagram feed, and you'll know right away that social issues and animals are important to her. That's no coincidence. Per Yahoo! News, she has spent a lot of time volunteering for important causes, having done time as a staff volunteer with an organization called Caring for Cats. Birgen is also an advocate for Erin's Law, which is dedicated to protecting children from sexual abuse through prevention at the public school level. She has even gotten her Consent Culture Educator certification through SafeBAE, which works to end sexual assault and harassment among teens.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Phil Hartman's daughter is celebrating sobriety

Brynn Hartman's toxicology report in June 1998 revealed that she had alcohol, cocaine, and Zoloft in her system when she died by suicide that May after killing her husband, Phil Hartmam, in his sleep, according to the Los Angeles Times. Brynn had struggled with substance abuse for a long time, friends told the outlet that same year (via the Hartford Courant). As is sometimes the case, Phil and Brynn's daughter, Birgen Hartman, has also dealt with this same issue — however, she is happily 10 years sober, as of this writing in 2022.

On February 15 of that year, Birgen celebrated the milestone with a heartfelt Instagram post showcasing the fourth chapter of the book "Trust Surrender Receive," which is titled "The Healing Trajectory." Alongside the photo, she wrote in part: "I always imagined I'd share words of wisdom and inspiration today, bare my soul, be human ... but instead I'm going to go ugly-cry on the beach and eat too much cake because I'm emotional and self-care is subjective."

This isn't the first time Birgen has been open about her relationship with sobriety. In 2018, on her sixth sobriety anniversary, she shared screen grab on Instagram of Donatello from the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" saying, "Drug dealers are dorks. Don't even talk to them." We agree! And given Michelangelo's love of pizza, we think the turtles would approve of her celebratory cake.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Birgen Hartman continues to honor her father's legacy

When "Saturday Night Live" celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015, someone very special attended the event. She didn't take the stage, but Birgen Hartman was in attendance in honor of her late father, Phil Hartman, whose 10-year history with the show is a monumental part of his legacy. 

According to TooFab, the celebration shared clips of Phil throughout the night, including his "SNL" audition, and he was further honored by Bill Murray in the show's memorial section. The outlet added that other late stars' loved ones were there on their behalf, as well, including Jim Belushi, who played brother John Belushi's role in a "Blues Brothers" segment, and Kevin and John Farley, who attended in tribute to late brother Chris Farley. Calling the special "unbelievable" and "heartwarming," Birgen told TooFab, "I'm so honored to have been invited, and to spend time with all of these people who knew and loved my father."

Similarly, when the "Mr. Plow" episode of "The Simpsons" turned 25 in 2017, Birgen spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her dad's legacy with the longest-running animated series of all time. "It's great that people still love and remember my dad's characters on 'The Simpsons,'" she told the outlet. "Even after 20-plus years, I still see people quoting Lionel Hutz or sharing Troy McClure memes. The fact that those characters have carried themselves into the modern day and have remained relevant is just so cool to see, and I think my dad would have been proud of that."

Phil Hartman's youngest child is married

It's not every day you get to marry someone at Villa Balbianello off of Lake Como in Italy. According to 2 Paragraphs, Birgen Hartman did just that in 2018. The outlet noted that this castle, which dates back to the 1200s, was famously seen when Anakin and Padmé kissed on a balcony in "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones." Birgen and her now-husband, Brandon Dragos, got engaged in 2015, when she showed off her gorgeous cushion cut ring on Instagram. On the big day, Birgen wore a gown designed by Berta, whose style is referred to as "bold, sexy and modern" on its website.

And though not everything went smoothly, as they so often do at least once on a wedding day, Birgen handled her celebration like a champion. She reminisced on Instagram about seeing all of their favorite people come together on their behalf. "Basically everything went wrong that night — they brought the wrong flowers, the wrong entrees, and many of the decorations and desserts that I ordered didn't even show up," she wrote in part on Instagram. "... We're lucky to have such loving people in our lives, and we're both so honored to have joined each other's families." Also, never apologize for sharing iconic photos like this one or that one from that big day of yours and Brandon's, Birgen! They're too good.

In addition to their romantic life, the couple also own DexaFit Minneapolis together. DexaFit is all about "bridging the gap between someone's health history and wearable data with medical-grade data," per Brandon's bio on the company's website.

Sean Hartman stays off the radar

Birgen Hartman might not be in the spotlight very often, but her older brother, Sean Edward Hartman, may just take staying off the radar to a new level — though he seems to be very much involved in the arts like his famous late father. Phil Hartman's multi-talented eldest child illustrated a movie poster for a short film back in 2013 by fellow Edina High School graduates for their work on "Kimura's Vengeance." Meanwhile, Volume One reports that Sean also spent time delving into music with various bands when he was in high school, including one called Metamorphis Mexico. A now-defunct but still live MySpace profile for the group can be found here.

After reportedly studying at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, at least according to CelebSuburb, Sean has since kept busy working as a visual artist and musician in his adulthood — back in the early 2010s, for example, he played synth for short-lived indie outfit Moonstone Continuum — while living in Oakland, California, per Heavy. Unlike his little sister, he doesn't seem to have any active social media profiles, but we sure hope that Sean is also doing well and continues to find success away from the binds of celebrity.