Brow Beat

Listen to the Heartwarming Voicemail Message Phil Hartman Recorded for a Fan in 1993

Last weekend marked the 18th anniversary of Phil Hartman’s untimely death, and a fan honored the occasion by recounting to blogger Sean L. McCarthy the story behind a lovely gesture the comedian made decades ago. In 1993, Dave Nelson sent Hartman, then an SNL cast member, a letter, a cassette tape, and an unsual 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.

The impersonations are, unsurprisingly, pretty funny, but it’s the extra mile Hartman went that makes the recording so bittersweet to hear all these years after his death. As for Nelson, he did use the greeting, to the delight of friends and family, who would call just to hear Hartman’s voice.