It’s been a very rough few weeks for movie fans as yet another legend has passed away. According to Deadline, Johnny Hardwick, the voice behind King of the Hill character Dale Gribble has passed away at his home in Austin, Texas at 64 years old. No details surrounding the cause of death have been released at this time although the Austin coroner’s office has ruled out foul play and is expected to update the cause as they gather more information.
An Austin native, Johnny Hardwick was born in the Texas city and began to pursue his love of comedy in the 1990s by doing stand-up shows around town. As his skills grew, so did his list of credits as the King of the Hill actor first appeared on The John Stewart Show and at L.A.’s The Laugh Factory as well as the Montreal Comedy Festival.
He would land his big break on the beloved Fox series during its debut season in 1997 with Johnny Hardwick also being credited as a producer and writer of the series along with his character, Dale Gribble, who was known for his deep belief in conspiracy theories.
For his work on the hit animated production, Hardwick would earn an Emmy nomination as a supervising producer in 2001 and 2002 and earned the Emmy alongside his peers as a producer in 1999 when the series took home the trophy for Outstanding Animated Program.
Along with Johnny Hardwick, King of the Hill starred Mike Judge as Hank Hill, a working-class man living in Arlen, Texas. Navigating his own adult life, marriage to Peggy Hill (Kathy Najimy), and raising his teenage son Bobby (Pamela Adlon), Hank’s greatest relaxation was cracking open a cold one at the end of the day and chatting with his buddies – Dale included. Created by Judge and Greg Daniels, the series also starred the vocal talents of Lauren Tom, Stephen Root, and Ashley Gardner.
When the series came to an end in the spring of 2010, Johnny Hardwick went off the map, not appearing in any other major projects. He did, however, start his own YouTube channel on which he would perform various bits as his King of the Hill character, raking in fans who had missed the series in its years off the air.
The news of Hardwick’s death is sure to deal an especially hard blow to fans of the series who were excited to learn the news that the actor would be returning for the show’s streaming revival on Hulu where reruns are streaming now.
Johnny Hardwick’s passing marks another legacy gone too soon as the King of the Hill star is the latest name in Hollywood to deliver fans with a shocking blow in recent weeks.
Along with Hardwick, many are still reeling from the loss of Paul Reubens who was known best for his portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, Euphoria’s up-and-coming young star on the rise Angus Cloud, and the legendary director of The Exorcist, Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., and Sorcerer, William Friedkin. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Hardwick’s family and friends.