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‘Napoleon Dynamite’ actor from Preston dies at 92

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IDAHO FALLS — The man who played Lyle in the smash hit “Napoleon Dynamite” died Friday at the age of 92.

Dale Critchlow passed away peacefully at MorningStar Senior Living in Idaho Falls, according to family members. Critchlow became a small-town celebrity after playing a farmer in the 2004 film based in Preston. Two years later, he appeared in “Church Ball.”

When EastIdahoNews.com interviewed Critchlow in Nov. 2020, he shared how he ended up in “Napoleon Dynamite.” Two of his buck sheep ended up in a group of ewes, and not wanting any Christmas lambs, Critchlow reached out to a neighbor.

RELATED | How Dale Critchlow ended up in Napoleon Dynamite

“My wife called Jared Hess’ mother and asked if one of her boys was there,” Critchlow said. “He came over, and he had a friend with him. I drove the truck out into the pasture, and the sheep came over. They grabbed those bucks and pushed them into the truck … and we got them out of there.”

Hess later contacted Critchlow and asked if he could be in a movie he was making. Critchlow agreed and was cast as Lyle the farmer. The film reportedly had a budget of $400,000 and ended up grossing $46 million at the box office, according to IMDb.

Dale Critchlow
Dale Critchlow played Lyle the farmer in ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ | YouTube screengrab

The farmer’s popularity grew to celebrity status with strangers requesting his autograph, and later selfies, when Critchlow was out in public.

“I went to a wedding reception in Salt Lake, and me and my oldest son were just waiting for the reception to start. This guy comes by, and he said, ‘Hey, I seen you in a show!’ He took some pictures,” Critchlow recalled.

Critchlow and his wife, Glenna Critchlow, had four children. She passed away in 2008.

During our conversation in 2020, Critchlow said his favorite holiday memory was the first Christmas the two spent together. She gave him a “real nice red shirt and tie,” and he surprised her with a cedar chest from “a really expensive furniture store.”

When asked what lessons he had learned over his lifetime, Critchlow thought for a moment and replied, “It pays to be a little daring but not too daring. When people help you, help them back if you can.”

Funeral details are being planned and have not been announced.

Watch our interview with Critchlow in the video player above.

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