Professor, actor and writer Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. was a prominent figure in American higher education. Some sources list his middle name as Alfred, and he has worked in film, TV, and theater.
Exactly What Brought About the Demise of Clarence Gilyard Jr.
Clarence had been battling a “long illness,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, though the paper does not specify what that sickness was.
The College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas issued a statement about Clarence’s passing.
UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy J. Uscher said in a statement, “It is with tremendous sadness that I relay this news.” All who knew him, including his students, were profoundly influenced by him. He was well-known on campus for his devoted teaching and impressive career achievements, and he possessed a wide range of remarkable talents.
Usher stated, “His generosity of spirit was unbounded; he was always willing to contribute to projects and performances in whatever way he could. We celebrate and thank Clarence for his many gifts to the College of Fine Arts, UNLV, and the world at large through his many remarkable accomplishments.
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Over the Course of Three Decades, Clarence Gilyard Jr. Racked up More than Thirty Acting Credits.
Although Clarence is no longer with us, his legacy as an actor will endure. A quick perusal of Clarence’s IMDb page reveals that the 66-year-old has made guest appearances in a number of beloved television series.
A few of Clarence’s roles include Sundown in 1986’s Top Gun, Theo in 1988’s Die Hard, and Conrad McMasters in 1989-1993’s Matlock. The actor continued to appear in a wide variety of films throughout the next three decades, amassing an impressive list of acting credentials in the process.
When some actors boast about being self-taught, Clarence chooses to go the traditional academic route. As for Clarence, he attended California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he received his BA in drama. In addition, Clarence graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Master of Fine Arts in theater performance.
Clarence will always be recognized as a legend in the entertainment industry, even if Hollywood has lost a bright star.
To the family and friends of Clarence Gilyard Jr., our deepest condolences.
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In 1979, Clarence Gilyard uprooted his life and headed for Los Angeles in search of acting roles. Beginning with appearances on sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes, Riptide, The Facts of Life, 227, and Simon & Simon, he eventually became a regular cast member. He began his role as Officer Benjamin Webster on the NBC police drama CHiPs in 1983.
When Top Gun was released in 1986, it marked Gilyard’s first cinematic role, and he was immediately a success. The sequels The Karate Kid II, Die Hard, Left Behind, and Left Behind II: Tribulation Force were all directed by him. He played private detective Conrad McMasters on the NBC show, Matlock, from 1989 until 1993.
Gilyard was also a mainstay on CBS’s Walker, Texas Ranger for many years. Soon after, he decided to switch gears and become a teacher instead of returning to the stage. Most recently, he was an associate professor in the Department of Theatre in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.