Johnny Hardwick Cause and Manner of Death Undetermined

The cause and manner of death for the late Johnny Hardwick, who spent more than a decade voicing Dale Gribble on Fox’s King of the Hill, is undetermined, according to the Travis County Medical Examiner.

A report obtained by The Hollywood Reporter cites “extensive decompositional changes” to the state of Hardwick’s body, impeding the ability to identify either. The examiner did note, however, that indications pointed to his death being relatively sudden and that he likely did not drown. The 64-year-old Emmy winner was found lying, face upward, in a bathtub in his Austin home on Aug. 8 following a welfare check conducted by local authorities.

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The autopsy and postmortem computed tomography, or a CT scan deployed separately from a physical examination of the body, were reportedly conducted beginning Aug. 9 and determined he was “moderately” decomposed with no obvious trauma. The decomposition ultimately made it difficult to determine the presence of natural disease and left the examiner unable to determine any functional abnormalities.

For 13 years and across 250 episodes, Hardwick voiced Dale, a conspiracy theorist and neighbor to his best friend and propane accessory salesman Hank Hill in the adult animated series King of the Hill, which was co-created Mike Judge, in addition to serving as a writer, story editor and producer on the show.

Dale was designed to resemble Hardwick, who won an Emmy for outstanding animated program in 1999 as a producer on the series. In a 2019 interview, Hardwick said his time on King of the Hill “was the dream job of all time, like winning the lottery times 10.”

“Johnny Hardwick was an incredibly beloved member of the King of the Hill family, whose tremendous talent, brilliant humor and friendship will be deeply missed by all who were fortunate enough to work with him over the past 25 years,” 20th Television Animation and Hulu, who are behind the previously announced King of the Hill revival, said in a statement.

Sources told THR Hardwick had recorded a couple new episodes but did not complete his work on the series at the time of his death.

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