TV and Movies

‘King of the Hill’ voice of Dale Gribble


Johnny Hardwick, the actor known for voicing the conspiracy-obsessed Dale Gribble on Fox’s “King of the Hill,” has died. He was 64.

Hardwick’s death was confirmed to USA TODAY by Hector Nieto from the Austin, Texas medical examiner’s office. Police made an urgent welfare check and found Hardwick dead in his Austin home on Aug. 8, according to the Austin police public information office.

No foul play is suspected, and a cause of death is pending following the coroner’s investigation.

The Austin native Hardwick voiced the Texas-twanged character Gribble on creator Mike Judge and Greg Daniels’ animated hit Fox show from the debut in 1997 through the final episode in 2010. The exterminator, bounty hunter, gun-fanatic Gribble wore an omnipresent orange Mack cap and sunglasses, chain-smoked Manitoba cigarettes and was highly suspicious of all levels of government.

Hardwick was a “KOTH” writer, story editor and producer as well, sharing the “KOTH” Emmy for outstanding animated program in 1999 and was nominated for the same award in 2001 and 2002.

“Johnny Hardwick was an incredibly beloved member of the ‘King of the Hill’ family, whose tremendous talent, brilliant humor and friendship will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate enough to work with him over the past 25 years,” 20th Television Animation and Hulu said in a statement to USA TODAY Thursday. “Our deepest condolences go out to his friends and family as we mourn the loss of one of the animation greats. His voice gave life to one of our most iconic characters, and he will be truly missed.”

Earlier this year, Hulu announced that Hardwick would return for the series’ streaming revival. The actor had recorded a few episodes.

Hardwick earned a degree in journalism from Texas Tech University, according to Campus Live’s profile of Hardwick. Following graduation, Hardwick immersed himself in the stand-up comedy circuit in Austin and Dallas with numerous comedy club performances.

His big break came when he performed at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, where he was spotted by Daniels and offered a writing position on “King of the Hill,” per Campus Live. The comedian was slated to be a cast member on the MTV sitcom “Austin Stories,” but in the end, he chose to work on “King of the Hill.” He later scored the role of Gribble after plans to cast actor Daniel Stern fell through.

“I ended up kind of basing his attitude on if he thought he was Jack Nicholson but he wasn’t, or if he just thought he was the coolest guy around, like Matthew McConaughey’s character in ‘Dazed and Confused,'” Hardwick told the Austin Chronicle in 1999. “The thing that they did have in Mike’s original pilot was that he was a conspiracy person, which I thought was a great touch.”

In addition to “King of the Hill,” Hardwick had voiceover roles in the 1999 comedy thriller “Natural Selection” and the Barenaked Ladies music video “Get in Line,” the latter of which saw him reprise his Gribble role for the “King” soundtrack single.

Hardwick also hosted a YouTube channel where he would perform covers of famous songs in Gribble‘s voice wearing the signature hat and glasses.

“King of the Hill” is set in the fictional town of Arlen, Texas, and follows the life of Hank (voiced by Judge), wife Peggy (Kathy Najimy) and their teenage son Bobby (Pamela Adlon). 

Adlon posted a photo of Hardwick with “King of the Hill” cast members on Instagram.

“Johnny was the most unique tender-hearted dirty footed sneakily talented mercurial creature,” Adlon wrote. “The memories are deep and long. Sha sha! WINGO! RIP Johnny——you left your buttprint!!”

Breckin Meyer, who voiced Hardwick’s son, Joseph, tweeted a picture on X dedicated to his TV parent.

“Was lucky enough to have Johnny Hardwick as my pops Dale for almost a decade,” Meyer wrote. “He will be so damn missed! RIP.”

Contributing: Edward Segarra, USA TODAY

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