Clarence Gilyard Jr., an actor best known for starring in “Walker, Texas Ranger” and his supporting role in “Die Hard,” has died. He was 66 years old.
No further details about his death are available at this time.
Gilyard’s death was confirmed in a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gilyard had been working as a professor of film and theater at UNLV’s College of Fine Arts.
“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength to everyone around him,” said UNLV film director Heather Addison. “Every time we asked him how he was doing, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who have been blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you so much, Professor G!”
An accomplished actor on film, television, and stage, Gilyard made a lasting impression in the 1980s after a series of guest-starring television appearances, making his feature film debut as Sundown in “Top Gun” and playing the terrorist genius of the computer Theo in “Die Hard” with a light-hearted threat. In 1989, he landed a regular role on prime-time television with “Matlock,” playing Conrad McMasters, a private investigator for Andy Griffith’s top criminal defense attorney.
Gilyard appeared in 85 episodes of “Matlock” before leaving the series in 1993 for an even bigger role: Jimmy Trivette, the right-hand man to Chuck Norris’ tough sergeant on the CBS crime western series “Walker, Texas Ranger.” . He appeared in all 196 episodes of the show’s eight seasons. After the end of 2001, Gilyard continued to act in various movies and TV shows.
Born December 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, Gilyard grew up a military brat, moving through US air bases during his teens before his family settled in California. After spending a year at the Air Force Academy as a cadet, Gilyard attended Sterling College and later California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in performance.
Gilyard returned to academia later in life, joining the theater department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an associate professor in 2006. Gilyard also worked as a producer and director, directing an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
Gilyard was previously married to Catherine Dutko. He married Elena Gilyard in 2001.