Clarence Gilyard Jr. (1955-2022)
Clarence Gilyard Jr., a popular Chicago stage and Hollywood film actor whose credits include the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the hit television series “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” has died at 66. Mr. Gilyard had a prolific career as an actor, starting in the 1980s with appearances in “Diff’rent Strokes,” “The Facts of Life”, “Simon & Simon”, “CHiPS”, and a lead role alongside the (then) up-and-coming Jim Carrey on the short-lived sitcom “The Duck Factory”. He received a NAACP Image Award for his work as Chuck Norris’s sidekick, Jimmy Trivette on “Walker, Texas Ranger”, and is well-loved for his turn as Theo, Hans Gruber’s cocky computer hacker, in “Die Hard” and as Matlock’s partner-in -crime, private investigator Conrad McMasters on the legal drama “Matlock”.
As a fledgling actor in LA in 1981, Clarence was hired for a role in the famous long-running Chicago comedy “Bleacher Bums”, the Organic’s hit show about Cubs fans. Clarence was the first black actor to perform in the show. After a successful run in supporting roles in Hollywood throughout the 80s, Clarence returned to the stage in 2007, starring in a masterful turn in Athol Fugard's "My Children, My Africa" at the Greenhouse Theater Center.
Clarence spent over 15 years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas working as a film and theater professor.
Clarence was born in Moses Lake WA, and grew up on military bases for his father’s Air Force career. He graduated from high school in Rialto, Calif., and attended the Air Force Academy before transferring to Sterling College, an evangelical Christian college in Kansas, where he played wide receiver for the football team.