Judging from the steady flow of acceptance speech tears, receiving a star on Canada's Walk of Fame is an emotional day for many Canadians. It was especially hard for Paul Hartmann, brother of the late Canadian actor-comedian Phil Hartman.
On Saturday afternoon, Paul was accepting the national honour on behalf of Phil (who dropped the extra "n" for his stage name). During a ceremony held at Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre, the beloved Ontario-born comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons" star was presented with the Cineplex Legends Award, a posthumous honour that in previous years has gone to other notable Canadian luminaries such as Mordecai Richler and Raymond Burr.
Part of a four-day festival, the annual Walk of Fame inductions honour Canadian achievement in a variety of fields, in a star-studded celebration of the country's best and brightest. And this year, Hartman -- who died tragically in 1998 -- was part of a 2012 crop of inductees that included Canadian music legends Sarah McLachlan and Randy Bachman, former CFL great Russ Jackson, and Toronto ballerina Sonia Rodriguez.
Of course, Hartman isn't the only "SNL" alum to be honoured with a star along Toronto's King Street, joining former cast-members Dan Aykroyd and Mike Myers, and the godfather himself, Lorne Michaels. Rosie Shuster, who was a staff writer on the show during the '70s and '80s, fondly remembered her time working with Hartman, saying, "He was such a versatile actor. I think his comedy was very stealth, you didn't see it coming, because he was such a silky smooth actor. I wish he was here. That's all that's missing, is him."
For Phil's brother Paul, this day has been a long time in the making. After stumbling across an online fan campaign, Paul has spent the last three years petitioning for Phil's induction -- but the posthumous Legends Award is only given out to one Canadian each year.
Said Paul of his three year campaign: "It was tough. That first year, we thought we had it nailed, and we didn't. And then the next year, there were so many other things going on in the world, we couldn't get it off the ground."
But this year, Paul stepped up his efforts, and in 2012, "the focus was almost year-long, with 17 different Facebook groups, more than 350,000 people on those different pages, and trying to translate that all into votes was a phenomenal amount of work. Sirius XM came on board, devoted a whole month to [the campaign]."
The outpouring of support worked. "When Peter Soumalias [founding director of the Walk of Fame] called me up, I kind of figured it was happening. There was a lot of leaking that went on. And then he called and said, 'Well, you won't have to do it again next year.' " And Paul was certainly grateful for that, laughing, "I said, 'Thanks Peter, now I can sleep.' "
It's clear that the recognition means a lot to Paul, who was visibly emotional on the red carpet, getting choked up as he reminisced about his brother. His long journey, however, finally has a happy ending. Paul said of Phil's long-awaited induction, "It's incredible. It's great that he's being honoured by his fans and Canada. That we will permanently have a place where people can come and see him, I think that's pretty great. He would love that."
The Walk of Fame Awards Ceremony will be broadcast on Sunday, October 14th at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global and Slice.
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