Johnny Hardwick, the voice of Dale Gribble on 'King of the Hill,' found dead in home at age 64

August 11, 2023
Ben Marquis

A famous entertainer that many Americans were very familiar with, even if they didn't know his name, sadly passed away this week.

Johnny Hardwick, who voiced the iconic character Dale Gribble on the long-running "King of the Hill" animated series, was found dead at his Texas home on Tuesday, according to the Daily Caller.

Hardwick, 64, was discovered by police officers conducting a welfare check. The cause of his death has not yet been revealed, but authorities say that foul play is not suspected.

The voice of Dale Gribble is gone

Celebrity gossip site TMZ was the first to report on Hardwick's death, which was confirmed by law enforcement sources.

His famed character, Dale Gribble, was a hilariously tough-talking but spineless anti-government conspiracy theorist who worked an assortment of odd jobs -- most prominently as an exterminator -- and enjoyed chain-smoking cigarettes while drinking beer with his neighbor friends.

Hardwick appeared in all but one of the 259 total episodes of "King of the Hill" that aired from 1997-2010 and was set to reprise his beloved character in a planned revival of the program.

Mike Judge, a co-creator of the show and voice of main character Hank Hill, told TMZ of Hardwick's untimely death, "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Johnny Hardwick. He was a great writer, actor, and comedian, and he will be deeply missed."

Death confirmed by Austin PD

According to People magazine, the Austin Police Department confirmed that Hardwick had been discovered Tuesday evening by officers conducting an "urgent" welfare check call and that he was declared dead at the scene.

"This is not being investigated as a homicide," the APD said. "The cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office."

Hardwick, an Austin, Texas native, graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in journalism but chose to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, which earned him notice from Greg Daniels, another co-creator of "King of the Hill," who hired Hardwick to be a writer but ultimately gave him the role of Dale to voice.

Kept in character for his YouTube channel

People further reported that following the 13-year run of "King of the Hill," Hardwick ventured back into comedy but retained the persona of the Dale Gribble character, as well as spin-offs from that character, such as the alias Rusty Shackleford, which he portrayed on his own YouTube channel.

That channel featured videos of Hardwick in character performing covers of popular songs on the guitar and piano along with other comedic bits.

"It’s shocking to see Dale Gribble play guitar, more than anything," Hardwick once explained in a 2019 interview. "It's funny when he plays piano but if he's hitting these licks and playing ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ it just doesn't … if I played it badly it might work, but that's impossible."

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