Former child actor Houston Tumlin, best known for appearing in the 2006 comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby at the age of 13, has passed away. Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans confirmed that Tumlin died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Pelham, Alabama on Tuesday evening. Houston’s girlfriend was reportedly inside the home at the time of the incident, but as of now, no note has been found and the motive for the suicide is unclear. He was 28 years old.
Not much is known about Tumlin’s personal life, though TMZ reports that Houston Tumlin served in the Army in his early 20s as a part of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. He also worked other jobs following his brief acting career, which included repairing telephone lines. Some of his pals have begun paying tribute to their friend in the wake of the news about his death.
“SGT Houston Tumlin came to me as PVT Tumlin,” tweeted Geoff Carmichael. “He showed a lot of spirit, promise, positive energy and was (hands down) one of my best Soldiers in my company. Came ready to work. Please check on each other. Get help if you need it. We need you.”
Another friend of Tumlin tweeted: “Some of y’all might know who this is. This is Houston Tumlin, aka “Hooty”. He was “Walker” in Talladega Nights (Will Ferrell’s Son). I graduated with him and he was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. He recently passed, and words can’t describe how hard this is. RIP buddy.”
Tumlin is best known for his role as Walker Bobby, Will Ferrell’s eldest son, in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The role is the former child actor’s sole acting credit, but it’s a memorable role for fans of the movie. Directed by Adam McKay, the comedy featured a gag wherein racecar driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) introduces his two sons, Walker (Tumlin) and Texas Ranger, who was played by Grayson Russell. As Walker, Tumlin also had a particularly memorable exchange with Ferrell during a Bobby family dinner scene.
“I threw a bunch of Grandpa Chip’s war medals off the bridge,” Walker says when recounting the events of the day to his family. Ricky responds, “Sounds like a good day,” and when Grandpa chimes in, Walker snaps back, “Shut up, Chip! Or I’ll go apesh*t on your ass!”
The role was small, but memorable. TV producer Robert King speaks for many fans with his tweet that reads: “Houston Tumlin stole every scene in the fantastic Talladega Nights. Sad news.”
Information about Tumlin’s survivors is unclear. At this time, our thoughts go out to his family and friends in the wake of this heartbreaking news. May he rest in peace. If you or someone you know is in distress, emotional support is available 24/7 for anyone in distress at 1-800-273-8255. Further information can be found at the official website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This news comes to us from TMZ.