Clarence Gilyard, best known for his roles in Die Hard, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Matlock has died at age 66.
Per Deadline, the news of his passing was confirmed by The University of Nevada. The institution is Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts, where he worked as a film and theater professor.
A cause of death for the actor has not yet been announced.
Born in Moses Lake, Washington, Gilyard reportedly moved to California to attend high school. He went on to receive a degree in Theatre Arts at Long Beach’s California State University. Later, he moved to Los Angeles to start his acting career.
The educator managed to snag several notable roles in the 1980s, appearing on Diff’rent Strokes, CHiPs, The Facts of Life and 227.
He also secured high-profile film roles at the time, playing Sundown in 1986’s Top Gun alongside Tom Cruise and Tim Robbins.
In 1988, Gilyard acted in the famed action thriller Die Hard as Theo, a computer hacker working alongside Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber.
The actor also starred in the long-running legal drama Matlock as investigator Conrad McMasters. He acted opposite Andy Griffith who was the show’s titular character.
In a sit-down interview with getTV prior to his death, Gilyard opened up about the friendship he shared with the late comedian. Calling him his “mentor,” the actor shared about their bond, “I wasn’t funny before I met Andy. That’s the truth.”
“I mean, he would tell me in between shots about the point of view, where the lift on the joke was, what the operative word was. Well, you know, because I was uncomfortable – it was Andy Griffith! I grew up with Andy Griffith,” he continued.
Discussing how the North Carolina native supported him as a young actor, he added, “You know, he was a surrogate father on television. So he had to calm me down. But he hired me, you know? I had the screen test in New York, and he hired me, so he believed in me.”
Gilyard is reportedly survived by his wife, Elena Gilyard, and had six children.