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Johnny Hardwick of 'King of the Hill' dies at 64

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The voice actor Johnny Hardwick has died. He's best known for his role as Dale Gribble on the animated series "King Of The Hill."

(SOUNDBITE OF THE REFRESHMENTS SONG, "YAHOOS AND TRIANGLES")

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Emmy-winning show was a slice-of-life satire about a Texas family. And Dale Gribble, a chain-smoking conspiracy theorist, was best friends with the show's protagonist, Hank Hill.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KING OF THE HILL")

JOHNNY HARDWICK: (As Dale Gribble) I know what's wrong with it. It's a Ford. You know what they say Ford stands for; don't you? Stands for fix it again, Tony (laughter).

MIKE JUDGE: (As Hank Hill) You're thinking of a Fiat, Dale.

SUMMERS: Dale wore mirrored aviator glasses and an orange trucker hat. And because of his government paranoia, he sometimes assumed an alias.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KING OF THE HILL")

HARDWICK: (As Dale Gribble) Is that a real computer?

DAVID HERMAN: (As Jonathan Burrows) Yes.

HARDWICK: (As Dale Gribble) Oh. In that case, my name is Rusty Shackleford.

KELLY: (Laughter) "King Of The Hill" ran for 13 seasons from 1997 to 2010. Hardwick could be heard in nearly every episode, and he was slated to join a reboot of the show greenlit by Hulu earlier this year.

SUMMERS: In a 2003 documentary called "The Making Of King Of The Hill," the show's co-creator Mike Judge reflected on bringing Hardwick on board.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE MAKING OF KING OF THE HILL")

JUDGE: To make animation really work, it's just important to make the look of the character and the voice match. And the first time I thought it really came together on "King Of The Hill" was actually Dale - Johnny Hardwick doing Dale.

SUMMERS: Here's Hardwick in the same film.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE MAKING OF KING OF THE HILL")

HARDWICK: They had seen some tapes of me. I used to do stand-up, and Mike said he might be interested in me doing a voice 'cause then I kind of locked into this Dale guy. That was sort of the only thing I wanted to audition for after - 'cause in the pilot script, he's just talking about the government.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KING OF THE HILL")

HARDWICK: (As Dale Gribble) Hey. Did you guys know that there's a star for each state? Brilliant. (Singing) You're a grand old flag. You're a something something flag. And forever in peace may you wave.

KELLY: That is the voice of Johnny Hardwick, who died this week at 64.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE REFRESHMENTS SONG, "YAHOOS AND TRIANGLES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.