Actor Clarence Gilyard Jr. passed away at 66, Variety reports.
The character actor was known for his roles in films such as Die Hard and Top Gun. Gilyard was also a regular on the television series Walker, Texas Ranger, and Matlock. Before his death, Gilyard was employed as a film and theatre professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Fine Arts.
The film chair of UNLV, Heather Addison, released a statement announcing the sad news on Nov. 28.
“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him,” said Addison in the statement.
“Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”
— 🏁 T.C. Fontaine 🏁 (@TCFontaine) November 29, 2022
Gilyard was best known for his roles as a computer expert-terrorist in Die Hard, his role as Conrad McMasters on Matlock, and the part of Jimmy Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger. The actor was born on Dec. 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington. He spent one year at the Air Force Academy before attending Sterling College, California State University, Long Beach, and California State University, Dominguez Hills. Gilyard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in acting and won roles on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life in the 1980s.
After Walker, Texas Ranger ended in 2001, Gilyard went on to earn his master of fine arts degree in Theatre Performance at Southern Methodist University. The actor told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017 that he was wired to teach.
“I’m wired to teach. And I’m a professional, but the profession has to feed the classroom. It’s what stimulates my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century.”
“I work best as an artist when I’m in a fertile arena,” he continued. “That means creative and imaginative. Being with all those millennials — I don’t understand what they’re saying but I’m siphoning off their energy.”
According to The Guardian, Gilyard had been ill for some time, but further details were unavailable.