Clarence Gilyard Jr death: Star of Die Hard, Top Gun and Walker, Texas Ranger movies dead at 66
Clarence Gilyard, the actor best known for playing computer hacker Theo in Die Hard and naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun, has died at the age of 66.
His death was announced on Monday in a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he had been working as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts.
“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” Dean Nancy Uscher said in the statement shared on Instagram.
For more Celebrity related news and videos check out Celebrity >>
“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.”
UNLV film chair Heather Addison remembered Gilyard as 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!’’ she added.
“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!”
No further details surrounding his death have been made public.
Clarence Gilyard movies and TV shows
Born December 24, 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington, Gilyard grew up a military brat, moving across air bases throughout the US during his adolescence 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 acting.
He landed his first role on the TV show Diff’rent Strokes in 1981.
In 1986, Gilyard made his film debut in Top Gun, in which he played Sundown, one of the elite fighter pilots.
Two years later, he was cast as Theo, the computer expert who helps Hans Gruber’s terrorist group, in the thriller Die Hard.
He got his big primetime TV break in 1989, when he landed the role of Conrad McMasters on the NBC legal drama Matlock, starring opposite Andy Griffith. He then portrayed Chuck Norris’ crime-fighting partner Jimmy Trivette on Walker, Texas Ranger.
Gilyard’s acting credits also include The Karate Kid Part II, CHiPS and the Left Behind films.
Despite his accomplished acting career, Gilyard stepped away from acting in 2006 to start teaching at UNLV and directing productions at the university’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre.
“I’m wired to teach,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017.
“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.”
He did, however, make a brief return to the screen in 2021, when he reunited with Bruce Willis and De’voreaux White for a Die Hard battery commercial.
Gilyard was previously married to Catherine Dutko. He married Elena Gilyard in 2001.
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your .