Clarence Gilyard Jr: Top Gun and Die Hard actor dead at 66

Clarence Gilyard, Jr, who acted in the films Top Gun and DieHard and TV series Walker, Texas Ranger before becoming an academic, has died. He was 66.

A spokesman for Gilyard confirmed his death with Fox News and said the actor died at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The cause of death remains unknown, however his spokesman noted Gilyard hasn’t been in “good health for a few years”.

Gilyard’s last two entertainment projects were the Driving Miss Daisy touring show and an advert for Die Hard branded car batteries featuring Bruce Willis in 2020.

“I am so sad to lose my client and friend of more than 35 years!” Gilyard’s spokesman remarked.

Gilyard was a veteran actor turned film and theatre professor. He taught at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Fine Arts. Nancy Uscher, the college’s dean, announced his death on Monday in a statement.

“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” said Ms Uscher.

“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.”

During Gilyard’s 30-year acting career, he was known for his roles in hit series, including Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger.

In the mystery legal drama Matlock Gilyard co-starred opposite Andy Griffith. He played a private investigator and appeared in 85 episodes from 1989-1993.

Later, he went on to play Jimmy Trevette in CBS’ Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993-2001, alongside Chuck Norris.

Gilyard additionally starred in films, as he portrayed a naval flight officer in 1986’s Top Gun and was featured in 1989’s Die Hard.

“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,” Ms Uscher concluded in her statement.

The Top Gun actor was born in 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington.

He previously tied the knot with Catherine Dutko and went on to marry his current wife, Elena Gilyard in 2001.

In 2006, Gilyard joined the department of theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an associate professor.

“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.

This story appeared on Fox News and is reproduced with permission.

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