WALKER, TEXAS RANGER and TOP GUN Star Clarence Gilyard Jr. Dies at 66

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WALKER, TEXAS RANGER and TOP GUN Star Clarence Gilyard Jr. Dies at 66

By Movieguide® Staff

Actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for WALKER TEXAS RANGER, DIE HARD, and TOP GUN, died on Nov. 28, 2022. He was 66.

While a cause of death was not revealed, a representative for Gilyard noted that the professor, author and actor had not been in “good health for a few years.”

“I am so sad to lose my client and friend of more than 35 years!” the rep, who started work with Gilyard in 1980, told Fox News.

Gilyard shared his expertise of television, film and theatre as a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Fine Arts.

The University’s Dean, Nancy J. Uscher confirmed Gilyard’s death in a statement:

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 acted alongside Hollywood talent such as Andy Griffith in the series MATLOCK, as well as with Chuck Norris in the CBS hit series, WALKER, TEXAS RANGER.

Gilyard also appeared in 1986’s TOP GUN, and the original DIE HARD which premiered in 1989.

“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!” UNLV film chair Heather Addison said.

Gilyard also made an appearance in several faith-based movies like LEFT BEHIND, starring Kirk Cameron and Brad Johnson, in 2000 and its sequel, LEFT BEHIND II: TRIBULATION FORCE.

Gilyard served as a board member of Holy Cross Family Ministries from 2004 until his death. He appeared at numerous faith-based programs sponsored by the North Easton ministry, which encourages the spiritual well-being of families.

“Clarence Gilyard was a man whose faith led to renewed life with his dear family, friends and his art. As an actor and director, he knew how to bring stories to life and so make our lives richer. I am grateful for the service he gave Family Theater Productions as a board member. I am grateful for his witness and friendship,” said Father David Guffey, C.S.C., National Director of Family Theater Productions.