Clarence Gilyard, Die Hard and Top Gun actor and professor, dies aged 66

Written by on November 29, 2022

(The Guardian) –

The film and television actor Clarence Gilyard – who was known for supporting roles in the movies Top Gun and Die Hard and for starring in the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger – has died, according to the university where he taught. He was 66.

Gilyard reportedly had long been ill, but no other details were immediately available when the college of fine arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) announced his death in a news release on Monday afternoon.

Fans of the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun saw Gilyard depict a pilot codenamed Sundown in what was his movie debut. He was also the computer-smart terrorist Theo in the 1988 Bruce Willis flick Die Hard, a role he reprised in a 2021 Super Bowl commercial. And in 1989, he began regularly depicting private investigator Conrad McMasters in the primetime TV lawyer drama Matlock starring Andy Griffith.

Gilyard moved on in 1993 after 85 appearances on Matlock and took on a role as the sidekick to Chuck Norris’s titular character on the TV crime drama Walker, Texas Ranger. He portrayed the character Jimmy Trivette throughout the show’s entire eight-season run – and even directed one of its 196 episodes – before it concluded in 2001.

UNLV brought Gilyard on to its theater department faculty as an associate professor in 2006. He cherished his role as an instructor there and prioritized it over hunting for more on-screen credits, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Current track