Clarence Gilyard, ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ & ‘Die Hard’ Star, Dead At 66 [CONDOLENCES]
Very sad news.
Famed 80s actor Clarence Gilyard, who starred in hit television series such as “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Matlock,” has passed away. According to the University Of Nevada Las Vegas, where Gilyard was teaching, the entertainer died after a longtime battle with an undisclosed illness.
Following his death, Gilyard was remembered by several of his students and peers. UNLV film chair Heather Addison said the actor was someone who was professedly blessed, writing:
“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV…Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”
While UNLV dean Nancy Scher stated:
“It is with profound sadness that I share this news…His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments. He had a national and international following through his celebrated work in the theatre, in film, and television. His generosity of spirit was boundless – he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible. We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude for all he contributed to the College of Fine Arts, the UNLV community, and, through his impressive personal achievements, to the world.”
Gilyard got his start in acting after studying Theater Arts at California State University. His first role was on the family sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” which starred famed entertainers such as Gary Coleman and Janet Jackson.
In 1986, Gilyard made his way to the big screen with a lead role in “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise. Two short years later, the entertainer secured another big-budget role in the film “Die Hard,” which starred Bruce Willis.
Following his movie debut, Gilyard found himself in starring roles for two famous 80s TV series; the NBC legal drama “Matlock,” and the crime-fighting fictional series “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Gilyard went on to appear in more well-known projects throughout his career, including the “Left Behind” series and “Karate Kid II.”
Though his love for acting was clear, Gilyard himself stated his true passion was in the classroom. After retiring from acting in 2006, the Washington state native began teaching at UNLV and directed productions in the area as well. During a 2017 interview, Gilyard spoke on his desire to educate, stating:
“I’m wired to teach. And I’m a professional, but the profession has to feed the classroom. It’s what stimulates my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century,”
“I work best as an artist when I’m in a fertile arena. That means creative and imaginative. Being with all those millennials — I don’t understand what they’re saying but I’m siphoning off their energy.”
We continue to keep Mr. Gilyard’s loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.