Clarence Gilyard, best known to Texans as co-star of Walker, Texas Ranger, is dead. He was 66 years old.
Gilyard had been suffering from a long illness, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas said in a statement released Monday. He was an acting professor at the college of fine arts at the university.
Gilyard studied acting at Cal State Dominguez Hills and landed her first role on the TV show Different shots in 1981.
Her first film role was in Upper gun (1986) playing Sundown, a naval flight officer. He also played computer terror expert Theo in die hard (1988). He appeared in 85 episodes of Matlock as Conrad McMasters, Andy Griffith’s private detective.
From 1993 to 2001, he donned a cowboy hat and played James Trivette, a sidekick to Chuck Norris’ lead character in Walker, Texas Ranger.
When the show ended, Gilyard took a sabbatical and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Performance at Southern Methodist University, laying the foundation for his teaching career.
“I am wired to teach. And I am a professional, but the profession must feed the class, ”he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017. “That’s what drives my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century.”
While in Dallas in 2004, Gilyard appeared in Kitchen Dog Theater’s Permanent collection and starred in Athol Fugard’s My children ! My Africa! at EMS.
Gilyard moved from Los Angeles to North Texas, but left behind his wife and two children. In 2001, he tells The Dallas Morning News that living alone, he found it difficult to resist temptation and his marriage fell apart.
“I arrived in Dallas with all the jets, all the cylinders, all the chambers of the gun,” he said. The news. “But that kind of energy can only last a few months. I worked exhaustively, down to sleep deprivation.
Co-star Sheree J. Wilson acknowledged that Gilyard was struggling.
“There was a moment when it was obvious Clarence was really troubled and just beleaguered by personal issues,” she said. The news.
Gilyard, a Protestant, turned to Catholicism as a solution.
Among his closest advisers was Father John Dick, vicar parochial of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Coppell, where Gilyard moved after several years to a penthouse apartment on McKinney Avenue.
Another Gilyard mentor was Father Paul Weinberger, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Oak Cliff.
Weinberger said Gilyard’s outspoken stance against abortion was a risk for the actor, whom he praised.
“I’m a conservative, Catholic, black actor,” Gilyard said in 2001. “There’s a lot that goes into this…socially, spiritually, culturally.”
Weinberger said, “If people are disappointed with the reality of who Clarence Gilyard really is, they’re missing a good actor, a good man, a good Catholic.”
In a statement, Nate Bynum, one of Gilyard’s colleagues at UNLV, said Gilyard will be missed.
“Some may find it surprising that Clarence valued his appointment as a college professor as highly, perhaps more, than his illustrious career as a television star,” Bynum said. “It was a major goal for him. He loved…the students he taught in his class. Gone too soon.”