“Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Die Hard” Star Clarence Gilyard Jr. Dies at 66
Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for his roles in “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and as a supporting actor in “Die Hard,” has died. He was 66 years old at the time. At this time, no further information about his death is available.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas issued a statement confirming Gilyard’s death. Gilyard was a film and theatre professor at the UNLV College of Fine Arts.
“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him,” said Heather Addison, chair of the UNLV Film Department.
“Whenever we asked how he was, he would cheerfully exclaim, ‘Blessed!’ But we were truly blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. Professor G, we love you and will miss you terribly!”
Gilyard, an accomplished film, television, and theatre actor made a lasting impression in the 1980s after a series of guest star TV appearances, making his film debut as Sundown in “Top Gun” and playing terrorist computer whiz Theo with gleeful menace in “Die Hard.”
He landed a regular role on primetime television with “Matlock” in 1989, playing Conrad McMasters, a private investigator for Andy Griffith’s lead criminal defense attorney.
Gilyard appeared in 85 episodes of “Matlock” before leaving the show in 1993 to play Jimmy Trivette, Chuck Norris’ tough sergeant on CBS’ Western crime series “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
He appeared in all 196 episodes of the eight-season series. Gilyard continued to act in films and TV shows after the series ended in 2001.
Gilyard was born on December 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, and grew up as a military brat, moving across air bases throughout the United States before his family settled in California.
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 acting after a year as a cadet at the Air Force Academy.
Gilyard returned to academia later in life, becoming an associate professor in the department of theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2006. Gilyard was also a producer and director, having directed an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
Gilyard previously divorced Catherine Dutko. In 2001, he married Elena Gilyard.