Discover more from The Daly Grind
RIP Dale Gribble
A look at the animation-legacy of Johnny Hardwick, the voice behind television's favorite conspiracy theorist.
Last week, a man whose work I very much enjoyed passed away. I’m talking about voice-actor, writer, and producer Johnny Hardwick. The former stand-up comic was best known as the voice of Dale Gribble in the long-running animated television series, King of the Hill. He also wrote for the show, along with its creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels.
I’ve written a little in the past about my love for King of the Hill, including how the show even provided some inspiration for the Sean Coleman Thrillers. The series’ writing was great, the humor was well crafted, and the setting and characters — well, they actually felt pretty familiar.
I grew up in a lower-middle-class suburban neighborhood that was eerily similar to the one the Hill family lived in. It wasn’t just the homes and yards, but also the people. To be clear, there wasn’t a group of guys who hung out, saying, “Yep. Yep. Mm-Hmmm,” but the patriarchs of the block otherwise looked and talked a lot like Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer (well, maybe not Boomhauer). They definitely drank as much beer and smoked as many cigarettes. They also shared a pride and passion for the home sports-team and propane grilling. You know, good old boys.
Mike Judge, who came up with the idea for the series, clearly had a similar upbringing.
Though people didn’t talk as openly about politics when I was a kid, there was an inherent suspicion of government that flowed freely in neighborhood conversations. The Dale Gribble character, a paranoid but usually harmless anti-government conspiracy theorist, embodied and exaggerated such sentiment.
Gribble was a hoot, confidently (and effortlessly) putting forth an alternate-reality explanation for just about everything. The voice-work was originally offered to actor Daniel Stern, who wanted too much money. Stern’s a talented guy, but it’s hard to imagine Dale without Hardwick’s distinct voice.
What I found especially funny about the character was that his reflexive skepticism never extended to the question of why his dark-skinned son looked nothing like him, but a heck of a lot like his Native American neighbor (and his Caucasian wife’s longtime “massage therapist”), John Redcorn.
Hardwick’s deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery (and of course that memorable laugh) brought the character to life, and though the show ended in 2010 (after a very successful 13-year run), millions continue to enjoy his iconic work through syndication.
Back in January of this year, Hulu announced a planned revival for King of the Hill, with Hardwick and many others reprising their roles. I’m not sure how far into the production the project was at the time of Hardwick’s unfortunate passing, but I’m hoping fans will get one last visit with Dale Gribble. With conspiracy theories playing a much darker and damaging role in real-life American society than the last time we saw him, it would be interesting to see how the character would adapt to that environment and still remain funny.
Rest in peace, Johnny Hardwick. You brought a lot of laughs to a lot of people.
Have a favorite episode of King of the Hill? Tell me which one in an email or in the comment section below.
Odds and Ends
I visited some relatives down in Boulder last week. While looking through their old wedding album, I spotted a five-year-old John Daly yard-dancing behind the newly-weds (I had moves even back then).
Last Saturday was Greeley Monster Day! I wrote about this annual local event last year, and it was good to catch up with my freaks.
You can check out many more ghoulish pictures on my Instagram account.
Obligatory Dog Shot
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
Interested in a signed copy? You can order one (or five) here.
Already read and enjoyed it? I’d love if you could leave a review for the book on Amazon.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
Want to drop me a line? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter yet, please click on the “Subscribe now” button below. Doing so will get these posts emailed directly to you.
Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.
Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!