Dennis Burkley, a character actor known for his brawny roles as truckers, bikers and rednecks, along with a stint as the voice of Principal Moss on Fox’s “King of the Hill,” died in his sleep in Sherman Oaks, Calif. on Sunday. He was 67.
Burkley was born in Van Nuys, Calif. but grew up in a small town outside of Dallas, where he picked up his Southern charm. Standing at 6 foot 3 inches, he often wore a scruffy beard and a Southern accent in his character roles, beginning his acting career in the early 1970s that included more than 130 film and TV credits.
After attending high school, he received his master’s in theater at Texas Christian U. in Fort Worth and then headed back to Los Angeles.
Two of his more memorable roles were as a giant, mute biker in Peter Bogdanovich’s “Mask” and as another biker, a racist named Sonny Crockett, on four episodes of “Hill Street Blues.”
Burkley also starred as Redd Foxx’s junkyard partner Cal Pettie on “Sanford,” a reboot of “Sanford and Son” that ran from 1980-81 for two seasons on NBC.
For 35 episodes of “King of the Hill,” Burkley voiced Carl Moss, the principal of Tom Landry Middle School in Arlen Texas, which aired from 1997 to 2008 for 13 seasons.
Burkley made his directorial debut in the 2005 independent film “Repetition,” which he also co-wrote and appeared in. The comedy was about students in a Los Angeles acting class featuring F. Murray Abraham, Mark Hamill and Robert Englund.
Burkley appeared in films such as: “Heroes, Wanted: Dead or Alive,” “The End of Innocence,” “The Doors,” “Tin Cup” and “Hollywood Homicide.” His television resume included roles on “Starsky and Hutch,” “One Day at a Time,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Who’s the Boss?,” “NYPD Blue,” “JAG,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “My Name Is Earl.”
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Laura, a son and a daughter.