‘King of the Hill’ Actor Johnny Hardwick Dead at 64

The Texas native voiced Dale Gribble on the animated series

Johnny Hardwick voice actor passes away

Voice actor Johnny Hardwick, best known for playing Dale Gribble on King of the Hill, has died at age 64, PEOPLE has confirmed.

Texas law enforcement officials reportedly discovered Hardwick’s body after arriving at his Texas home Tuesday for a welfare check, according to an initial report by TMZ. They pronounced Hardwick dead at the scene.

Deadline also confirmed Hardwick’s death with the Austin coroner’s office, who noted no foul play is suspected and said a cause of death is still to be determined, pending further investigation.

Hardwick started voicing Dale Gribble from King of the Hill’s inception in 1997 and won an Emmy for the program in 1999. He also served as a producer on the show.

King of the Hill ran for 13 seasons until 2010. In January, Hulu announced plans to reboot King of the Hill with Hardwick reprising his role. Original series voice actors Kathy Najimy, Stephen Root, Pamela Adlon and Lauren Tom also signed on for the revival.

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20th Television Animation exec Marci Proietto told emmy Magazine in April that the new King of the Hill will see “the characters we love with a slightly more modern sensibility.”

(Back row, L-R:) Kathy Najimy as Peggy Hill, Stephen Root as Bill, creator and exec. producer Mike Judge as Hank Hill, guest voice David Herman, Johnny Hardwick as Dale, and (front row L-R:) Lauren Tom as Mihn, Brittany Murphy as LuAnne, Ashley Gardner as Nancy Gribble, Toby Huss as Cotton/Kahn and guest voice Tom Petty as Lucky celebrate the 200th episode of "King of the Hill" in Century City, CA on April 8, 2005
The ‘King of the Hill’ cast celebrates the show’s 200th episode in 2008.RAY MICKSHAW/WIREIMAGE

Hardwick graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in journalism and went on to pursue a comedy career. While performing at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, he caught the attention of King of the Hill co-creator Greg Daniels, who offered him a writing job on the animated series. Hardwick landed the gig voicing Dale Gribble after first choice Daniel Stern didn’t pan out.

In a 2019 interview, Hardwick told YouTuber Simian Jimmy (formerly known as Mumkey Jones) that he wanted to get back to his comedy roots.

“I wanted to get back into standup, so I was working on my acting stuff, so I’ve been working out material,” Hardwick said.

In 2012, after King of the Hill ended, Hardwick started up his own YouTube channel where he played character Rusty Shackelford, Yello! Party Chairman and President of the United States Gun Club, and uploaded videos called The Rusty Report. Hardwick also posted videos playing cover songs on guitar and piano.

“It’s shocking to see Dale Gribble play guitar, more than anything,” Hardwick told Jimmy. “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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