Jon Lovitz Once Blamed Andy Dick For Phil Hartman's Death

Feuds among famous comedians of a particular vintage are nothing new. Some, such as the feud between David Letterman and Jay Leno -– and Leno's other chatshow feud with Conan O'Brien -– derive from professional rivalry. Others, such as Bill Hicks' dispute with Denis Leary, and George Lopez's feud with Carlos Mencia, arose from accusations of joke stealing and cynical plagiarism.

However, on rarer occasions, comedians will call each other out for their offstage behavior, which can often sadly lead to a situation that's not very funny at all. In 2007, details emerged of a grim feud between comedians and actors Jon Lovitz and Andy Dick over the death of their mutual friend, "Saturday Night Live" alumni Phil Hartman, who was shot to death at his family home by his wife, Brynn Omdahl, in a shocking murder-suicide in 1999 (via CNN).

Lovitz argued that Dick's actions had directly led to the killing, leading to a public war of words and a violent confrontation between the two men. Here are the details.

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Drug use and the murder of Phil Hartman

At the time of their deaths, Phil Hartman and Brynn Omdahl had been married for more than a decade, with actor Steve Guttenberg telling CNN when news of the murder-suicide broke that, to all appearances, the Hartmans were "a very happy couple, and they always had the appearance of being well-balanced." But according to Jon Lovitz, the horrifying incident was precipitated by a party at the Hartmans' home, when Andy Dick, a guest at the party whose use of drugs is well-documented, reportedly gave Omdahl cocaine, per CBS News.

The presence of cocaine at a Hollywood party may not be a story in itself. But as reported by the same source, Omdahl had been in recovery from addiction for a decade by the time Dick provided her with the drug. It was Lovitz's belief that Dick's actions led Omdahl into a fresh period of addiction and mental instability directing resulting in the deaths of both her and Hartman.

Per the same source, Lovitz claimed that when he was hired to fill in for the deceased Hartman on the sitcom "Newsradio" –- which also starred Dick -– he told his costar: "I wouldn't be here now if you hadn't given Brynn that cocaine."

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).

A violent confrontation

Jon Lovitz's accusation that Andy Dick in part bore some of the responsibility for the murder of Phil Hartman exacerbated preexisting tensions on the set of "Newsradio," according to CBS News, though after Lovitz apologized for the statement, the two reportedly settled their differences for a while.

But the feud came to a head once again during a visit an inebriated Dick paid to Lovitz's restaurant when the drunk comedian told Lovitz that he was slated to be another victim of the "Phil Hartman hex," and that he would be the next celebrity to die as a result of the curse. The outburst –- whether an actual threat or a joke in bad taste -– enraged Lovitz, who claimed: My blood just went to my head. I wanted to smash him, but if I hit him he would have gone flying into the table behind him" (per Showbiz Cheatsheet).

Though Lovitz avoided using violence during that encounter, it emerged in July 2007 that the comedian finally got physical with Dick after a performance at the Los Angeles Laugh Factory in July of that year, with bar owner Jamie Masada telling the New York Post's Page Six that Lovitz "picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose." Lovitz said that he had first confronted Dick looking for an apology, but none had been offered.