Clarence Williams III dies: Tales From the Hood star was 81

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Clarence williams iii dead

Some sad news to start the week, with CNN reporting that legendary character actor Clarence Williams III has passed away at 81. Modern audiences will likely know him best from his roles in Tales from the Hood, American Gangster (where he memorably played gangster Bumpy Johnson), and his hilarious role as Sampson in the cult classic Half Baked. I personally loved him in his John Frankenheimer roles, with him as a pretty scary baddie in the great 52 Pick Up and Reindeer Games. He also showed up as Prince's dad in Purple Rain, Deep Cover (coming soon to the Criterion Collection), Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and even an episode of The Littlest Hobo!

But, what Williams is certainly best known for to baby boomers is no doubt his iconic turn on TV's The Mod Squad. In it, he played Linc Hayes, a former criminal turned undercover operative for the cops, opposite the late Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole. This may not sound like a big deal, but for 1968 network TV, Williams was hot stuff, with him playing a black and proud rebel with a big afro, kick-ass sunglasses, and a defiant attitude. This was rare for network TV, and in many ways, he was the precursor to folks like Richard Roundtree, Pam Grier, and Fred Williamson, who would become stars during the blaxploitation era.

Throughout his career, Williams stayed busy and in high demand as a character actor, with one of his last roles being in Lee Daniels' The Butler back in 2013. Williams was a terrific actor and will be missed!

Source: CNN

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.