You may remember him for such roles as Troy McClure on The Simpsons or his various roles on SNL. Before his tragic death in 1998, Phil Hartman was known as a consummate professional who inspired many comedians who still remain loyal to him.
In 1993 a fan wrote to him and asked if he would record an outgoing message for his answering machine:
Dave Nelson sent Hartman, then an SNL cast member, a letter, a cassette tape, and an unusual request: that Hartman record Nelson’s outgoing voicemail message. (He also sent $5 for postage.) Hartman not only taped the scripted message that Nelson had asked for but also added three more options of his own, recording versions as Ed McMahon, Frank Sinatra, and the Bill Clinton impression he was so famous for.
Hartman’s response was as heartwarming as it was professional:
Perhaps it is too much to expect our modern celebrities to be so accessible to their fans, what with caller ID and identity thieves, but even 23 years ago, it was not common for one to go out of their way like this. You can tell by his tone at the end of his message that he was really touched by this fan.
Hartman was a very successful man, but he was humble enough to show gratitude.
“The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast
Thank you for all the laughs, Mr. Hartman. You will ever be in our prayers.