Houston Tumlin, who is known for his one and only role in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, has died by suicide at the young age of 28.
Tumlin was a precocious 13-year-old when he won the role as Walker Bobby, son to Will Ferrell‘s Ricky Bobby and brother to Grayson Russell’s Texas Ranger Bobby in Talladega Nights. As Walker, Tumlin would deliver some of the movie’s most memorable lines, most notably during the famous dinner scene with the entire family at the dinner table and whose wrath was directed at his Grandpa Chip.
Houston Tumlin died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his home in Pelham, AL, which was confirmed by Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans. Tumlin’s girlfriend, Charity Robertson, also confirmed his death, mourning his loss in a Facebook post. “I’ve never experienced a hurt like this before. I feel numb, I feel defeated, I feel lost. I feel empty. My heart is absolutely shattered.” Robertson also posted several pictures of the couple together. She continued, “My sweet, sweet baby.. Our time together was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll miss your big heart, caring spirit, infectious laughter, & oh man could the list go on. I love your smart mouth, your ‘i’m always right’ attitude… your hugs, your kisses, your touch.. Just YOU! One thing is for sure though, I have the absolute best guardian angel a girl could ever wish for cause everybody knows you don’t play about me. I love you so much Houston Lee & thank you for loving me so passionately and unapologetically for the time we had each other.”
Robertson was not the only one to mourn the loss of Houston Tumlin. Adam Mckay, who directed Tumlin in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, tweeted his condolences, “Truly heartbroken and stunned at Houston’s passing. He was a joyful and talented person. Will never forget the laughs and good times we had. Sending love and prayers to his family and friends.”
As recently as mid-February, Tumlin had posted to his own Instagram a photo of himself and Russell, which he directed to Russell, at the 2006 premiere of Talladega Nights with the caption, “@graysoncrussell tell me a set of “brothers” more handsome. I’ll wait.” Tumlin threw in a couple of funny face emojis for good measure.
This February posting followed Russell’s 2019 anniversary tribute of the time spent on the set of Talladega Nights. In his tribute, Russell remarked, “I remember a ton of Connect Four, numerous apologies to Ted Manson for allegedly “throwing his old war medals off the bridge,” acting like Legolas running around with @mslesliebibb ‘s hair extensions, and being carried around atop the broad shoulders of Michael Clarke Duncan. I was 10 feet tall. I think that’s why I always carry the kids up top.” You can see some of their hilarious Talladega Nights interactions below.
It is not known why Tumlin never followed up on his hilarious turn as Walker Bobby in Talladega Nights. He played well off Will Ferrell as well as his “brother” Texas Ranger. What is known is that Tumlin served in the U.S. Army in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell and then worked as a telephone line repairman. Fellow former soldiers have also reached out with their condolences.
Times are tough, there is no doubt about it. If you or anyone you may know is struggling and needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text, for free, HOME to 741-741 for 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line.