Clarence Gilyard — veteran actor, theater professor, and author — has died from a prolonged illness, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas announced on Nov. 28. He was 66 years old. In recent years, Gilyard worked as a theater professor at the UNLV College of Fine Arts.
Gilyard’s career took off in 1986 when he starred as Marcus “Sundown” Williams in the original “Top Gun” film, according to his IMDb filmography. He then played tech genius Theo in 1988’s “Die Hard,” carving a place in history with roles in two iconic ’80s films.
He went on to play a recurring role in the TV series “Matlock” and then landed a lead role in “Walker, Texas Ranger,” starring opposite Chuck Norris in an award-winning turn.
After garnering success in TV and movies, he earned a master of fine arts degree in theater performance from Southern Methodist University and went on to teach at UNLV, passing his love of acting on to future generations.
“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV,” said UNLV film chair Heather Addison in a press release.
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“His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him… 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,” said UNLV dean Nancy J. Uscher.
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