Clarence Gilliard Jr., a popular supporting actor whose credits include the blockbusters Nutcracker and Top Gun and the popular TV series Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger, has died at the age of 66.
His death was announced this week by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he taught stage and film acting. No further details were available Tuesday.
“Professor Gilliard was a beacon of light and strength to all around him at UNLV,” film school head Heather Addison said in a statement. “Every time we asked him how he was, he happily declared that he was ‘blessed!’ But we are really the ones who were lucky to be his colleagues and students for so many years.”
Gilliard was a native of Moses Lake, Washington. He had a prolific acting career that began in the 1980s with appearances on Different Strikes, Facts of Life and other shows. He then appeared in two of the biggest films of the decade: Top Gun, in which he played a radar intercept officer at Sandown, and Die Hard, in which he was cast as a rogue computer expert, one of which played “You did not take me with you for my charming personality.
In the 1990s, he was on the side of law enforcement in Matlock, opposite Andy Griffith, and Walker, Texas Ranger, starring Chuck Norris. His other credits include The Karate Kid: Part II, the stage production of Driving Miss Daisy, and appearing alongside Die Hard star Bruce Willis in a commercial for DieHard batteries.