Martin Mull, Comic Actor Who Starred in ‘Mary Hartman,’ Dies at 80


Martin Mull, the comedic actor, musician and artist who gained widespread attention in the 1970s in shows such as “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and “Fernwood 2-Night,” and remained active in television and film over the next half-century, died on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 80.

His wife, Wendy Mull, confirmed his death. He died after a long illness, his family said. No cause was given.

In “Mary Hartman,” Mr. Mull played Garth Gimble, a domestic abuser who met his demise by being impaled on the star atop an aluminum Christmas tree.

He starred in the show’s subsequent spinoff, “Fernwood 2-Night,” a parody of talk shows that aired in 1977. He played the talk-show host Barth Gimble, the twin brother of Garth Gimble.

“With an undistinguished blond mustache, which may or may not be intended as a joke, Barth copes manic‐depressively with a shaky job situation and some hazy allegations about charges pending against him in Florida,” The New York Times wrote in a review in 1977 of the show’s opening week. “Barth will say only that his lawyer thinks he has ‘a pretty darn good case for entrapment.’”

He was also known for his roles in “Clue” (1985) and the television shows “Roseanne” and “Arrested Development.” He also played the character Bob Bradley, an aide to the main character in the political sitcom “Veep.”

More recently, Mr. Mull appeared in the Fox television series “The Cool Kids,” about a group of rule-breaking friends living in a retirement community.

Martin E. Mull was born on Aug. 18, 1943, in Chicago to Harold and Betty Mull. He earned degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design. His work appeared in gallery shows and in the Whitney and Metropolitan museums.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Maggie Mull.

In a 2018 interview with The Times, he described his approach to his art as “going back and finding old Life and Look magazines, people’s family photos and things like that, and then I collage from those, make my own images and then paint them.”

A full obituary will follow.

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.



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