Actor and student Clarence Gilyard Jr, known for roles in TV series such as Walker, Texas Ranger and Locksas well as movies that include Die Hard and Top Gun, he died. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts, where Gilyard was a professor of film and theater, shared the news of his death. No cause of death was given. He was 66 years old.
Gilyard’s career spanned more than 30 years in film, television and theater. His first film role was as Sundown in the original Top Gun (1986), and then made a lasting impression in the 1989’s Die Hard as computer smashing whiz baddie Theo.
On television, Gilyard co-starred opposite Andy Griffith in a legal drama Locks from 1989-1993, appearing in 85 episodes as private investigator Conrad McMasters. Then, from 1993-2001, he starred with Chuck Norris as Jimmy Trevette in CBS’. Walker, Texas Ranger.
Gilyard was born in 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington and attended high school in California. He earned a BA in Theater Arts from California State University, moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting in the late 70s.
After Walker, Texas RangerGilyard took a sabbatical from acting and completed an MFA in Theater Performance at Southern Methodist University, then joined the UNLV College of Fine Arts.
In 2020, Gilyard repeated the role of Die Hard‘s Theo in a classic sale for Advanced Auto Parts celebrating its acquisition of the DieHard battery brand. The ad featured Bruce Willis’ legendary hero John McClane with cameos by De’voreaux White, who played limo driver Argyle, and Gilyard. At the time, Gilyard told Nevada Public Radio the experience was “surreal.”
Said UNLV Dean Nancy J. Uscher of Gilyard, “His students were greatly inspired by him, as were all who knew him.” He had many extraordinary talents and was well known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional achievements.
“His generosity of spirit knew no bounds – he was always ready to contribute to projects and events no matter what. We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude for all that he contributed to the College of Fine Arts, the UNLV community, and, through his extraordinary achievements, to the world.”
Added UNLV film chair Heather Addison, “Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength to everyone around him at UNLV. Whenever we asked him how he was doing, he would happily say that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly blessed to have been colleagues and students for so many years. We love and miss you, Professor G!