Walker Texas Ranger, Die Hard, and Top Gun Star Professor Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr Passes Away at Age 66

On Monday, November 28, Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr. passed away at the age of 66. His death was confirmed by Dean Nancy J. Uscher of the University of Nevada/Las Vegas (UNLV), via social media. Uscher wrote on Instagram, “It is with profound sadness that I share this news.”

Gilyard had been working as a film and theater professor in the UNLV College of Fine Arts. His death followed abattle with an unknown illness according to Uscher. “As an actor, director, and producer, he had a national and international following through his celebrated work in theatre, film, and television. His generosity of spirit was boundless, he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible,” Uscher proclaimed.

As an actor, director, and producer, Clarence had a career in television, film, and theatre that spanned more than 30 years. While teaching at UNLV, he remained active as a professional. He earned his BA in Theatre Arts from California State University, Dominquez Hills. 

Gilyard starred in blockbuster movies from the 80’s, maybe best known for his roles in “Top Gun” and “Die Hard,” but might be remembered equally well as he co-starred for 13 years in two television series, “Matlock” and “Walker Texas Ranger.” Afte the TV series he took a sabbatical and completed an MFA in Theatre Performance at Southern Methodist University (SMU).

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“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV,” said UNLV film chair Heather Addison. “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”

“Some may find it surprising to know that Clarence valued his appointment as a university professor as highly, maybe higher, then his illustrious career as a TV star,” said fellow UNLV theatre professor Nate Bynum. “it was amajor goal for him. He loved his UNLV family and, in particular, the students he instructed in his classroom. Gone too soon.”

A very talented individual that will be greatly missed. Final arrangements were not available at the time of this writing.

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