Late last night (November 28), news broke that beloved Die Hard actor and UNLV professor Clarence Gilyard Jr was dead. He was 66 years old; his cause of death remains unknown.
Gilyard’s film, television, and theater career spanned more than 30 years, including classics such as Top Gun (1986), Die Hard, Matlock, and Walker, Texas Ranger. As such, his fanbase is innumerable, comprised of everyone from action movie fanatics to Broadway buffs. An outpouring of grief from fans all over the world followed the news of his death.
“I met him at Comic Con London in June 2022. What a lovely, kind-hearted man he was. I had a photoshoot with him and got his autograph. RIP you will be missed by everyone, even by people who only met you briefly,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
“One of my favorites! I enjoyed his performances in Matlock and Die Hard very much. Prayers of comfort for his family, friends, and students,” another said.
Actor Clarence Gilyard solidified his place in film history as Theo in DIE HARD (which he revived in a ‘21 Super Bowl ad) & in TV as Conrad McMasters in MATLOCK. But he also made an innumerable impact in real life as a film studies professor at UNLV. May he Rest In Peace. #RIP pic.twitter.com/DT595TAlbz— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) November 29, 2022
As many fans agree, the annual viewing of the Christmas classic Die Hard will be tinged with sadness this year. “Way too young. Watching Die Hard this holiday season will carry extra poignancy. RIP,” one fan said.
The film most prominently featured Bruce Willis and Reginald VelJohnson. Clarence Gilyard Jr’s performance, however, is a favorite among action fans. Gilyard’s line “The quarterback is toast!” has always stood as one of the most quotable in a film packed with meme-worthy moments.
Clarence Gilyard Jr.’s UNLV Colleagues Mourn the Death of the ‘Die Hard’ Star
After decades behind the camera, Clarence Gilyard Jr. decided to take his passion for filmmaking to the classroom. In 2006, the Die Hard star dedicated his life to molding aspiring actors as a film and theater professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts.
In his more than 15 years at the professor’s podium, Clarence Gilyard Jr. proved that he not only had an undeniable talent for acting but for teaching as well. On Monday, UNLV Dean Nancy J. Uscher shared a touching tribute to one of her most adored professors.
“His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments.”
“[Clarence Gilyard Jr.’s] generosity of spirit was boundless,” Uscher continued. “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.”