Who was Clarence Gilyard Jr? Meet his Wife Elena Gilyard, Dies at 66, Family

Clarence Gilyard Jr, the actor who is known for playing computer hacker Theo in “Die Hard” and naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in “Top Gun,” has died at the ripe old age of 66.  His death was first announced on Monday in a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he had been working as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts for several years.

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Clarence Gilyard Jr Death, His Obituary and Works

“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” Dean Nancy Uscher has also said in the statement she shared on Instagram. “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.”  

UNLV film chair Heather Addison has also remembered Gilyard as a “beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV.”  She has also added: “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!”  No further details concerning his death have been made public or official.

According to UNLV, Gilyard got into acting after studying Theatre Arts at California State University. He got his first role on the TV show “Diff’rent Strokes” in 1981. In 1986, Gilyard made his film debut in “Top Gun,” in which he played the role of Sundown, one of the best fighter pilots.

Primetime TV shot

Two years later, he was cast as Theo, the computer expert who helps Hans Gruber’s terrorist group, in the thriller “Die Hard.” He got his big primetime TV shot in 1989 when he got the role of Conrad McMasters on the NBC legal drama “Matlock,” starring opposite Andy Griffith. He then played famously the role of Chuck Norris’ crime-fighting partner Jimmy Trivette on “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Clarence Gilyard Jr Family

Gilyard’s acting credits also include “The Karate Kid Part II,” “CHiPS” and the “Left Behind” films.  Despite his long acting career, Gilyard stepped away from acting in 2006 to be a teacher at UNLV and directing productions at the university’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre.  “I’m wired to teach. And I’m a professional, but the profession has to feed the classroom.

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It’s what stimulates my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century,” he also told the Las Vegas Review-Journal back in 2017.  “I work best as an artist when I’m in a fertile arena. That means creative and imaginative. Being with all those millennials — I don’t understand what they’re saying but I’m siphoning off their energy.”  

Clarence Gilyard Early Life

Gilyard was born into a strict military family at Moses Lake, Washington, on Christmas Eve, in 1955, He is the son of Barbara and Clarence Darnell Gilyard Sr., a U.S. Air Force officer. Gilyard was the second of six kids.

 His family hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, but Gilyard grew up on Air Force bases in Hawaii, Texas, and Florida. He became Catholic in the early 1990s. During his young adulthood, Gilyard also lived in the San Bernardino suburb of Rialto, California, and went to attended Eisenhower High School. A

Clarence Gilyard Married Life

Clarence Gilyard has been married twice and had six kids. His first marriage was to Catherine Dutko, which ended in a disappointing divorce, and he married his second wife, Elena Castillo, in the year of 2001.