Walker, Texas Ranger and Die Hard star Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died at 66.
Gilyard was a professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas College of Fine Arts while he continued to work in the acting field.
“We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude,” the college’s dean, Nancy Uscher, said in a statement.
Some knew him as Die Hard’s computer hacker, Theo. Others knew him as Walker, Texas Ranger’s Jimmy Trevette or Matlock’s private investigator Conrad McMasters. Students at University of Nevada, Las Vegas knew him as a professor and mentor. And on Monday, the UNVLA College of Fine Arts announced the solemn news that Clarence Gilyard Jr., actor and teacher, has died at 66.
The College of Fine Arts made the announcement on Instagram, and no further details regarding Gilyard’s death have been made public.
“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” said Dean Nancy Uscher in the statement. “His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments. He had a national and international following through his celebrated work in the theatre, in film, and television. His generosity of spirit was boundless—he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible. We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude for all he contributed to the College of Fine Arts, the UNLV community, and, through his impressive personal achievements, to the world.”
Gilyard’s career in Hollywood spanned 30 years of film and television and he served as an actor, director, and producer, per the statement. He taught acting at UNLV while continuing to pursue his own career in the arts. He first earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and after his successful back-to-back runs on Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger, he returned to school and earned a master’s of fine arts in theatre performance at Southern Methodist University.
In the statement, UNLV film chair Heather Addison called Gilyard “a beacon of light,” and fellow UNLV theatre professor Nate Bynum said Gilyard regarded his time as a professor “as highly, maybe higher, then his illustrious career as a TV star,” adding that he’s “gone too soon.”
Gilyard landed his first TV role on Diff’rent Strokes in 1981, and made his film debut in the original Top Gun in 1986.
Our thoughts are with is family, friends, and colleagues at this time.
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