Clarence Gilyard Jr. of Die Hard and Walker Texas Ranger passes away at 66

Last Updated on December 1, 2022

Clarence Gilyard Jr

Actor and Film and Theatre Professor, Clarence Gilyard Jr., known for his roles in television series such as Matlock and Walker Texas Ranger, as well as his film roles in hit movies like Top Gun and Die Hard, has passed away at the age of 66. The cause of death is not yet known. Deadline reports that his school, The University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts had shared the news of his passing.

Gilyard’s film career started with his role as Sundown in 1986’s Top Gun. He, then, would go on to portray the tech expert of the villainous group in the 1988 action movie, Die Hard. He was even recently seen reprising his role for the tongue-in-cheek continuation of the movie for the Die Hard brand car battery commercial in October of 2020. Gilyard shared his experience with Nevada Public Radio, saying the making of the commercial was “surreal.”

Nancy J. Uscher, the Dean of UNLV, had this to say in the wake of his passing, “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. 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.”

Heather Addison, the UNLV film chair, adds, “Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV. 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!”

Gilyard earned a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University and then completed an MFA in Theatre Performance at Southern Methodist University after the conclusion of Walker Texas Ranger. Gilyard, then, took a sabbatical from acting to become a Film and Theatre Professor.

Source: Deadline

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.