HomeAmerican EntertainmentPeople‘Die Hard’ Star, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Dead at 66

‘Die Hard’ Star, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Dead at 66

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by CBS Photo Archvie/Getty Images)

Clarence Gilyard Jr., who is best known for his Roels in Matlock, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Die Hard, has reportedly passed away at the age of 66. 

On Monday (November 28th), UNLV College of Fine Arts, where Clarence Gilyard Jr. had been teaching film and theater, issued a statement revealing that the late actor had died following a long-term illness. 

“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Uscher. The Dean then spoke about Clarence Gilyard Jr. This included how the late actor’s students were deeply inspired by 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.”

Uscher then pointed out that Clarence Gilyard Jr.’s 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.

UNLV film chair, Heather Addison praised Clarence Gilyard Jr. for his dedication to education. “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!’” she recalled. “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!”

He was survived by his second wife Elena and six children. 

Clarence Gilyard Jr.’s Acting Career Spanned Over 40 Years

Clarence Gilyard Jr. began his acting career in 1980 and continued acting up until his death. Along with Die Hard, Gilyard appeared in other big films, including Top Gun, Left Behind, and A Matter of Faith.

During an interview with KNPR in 2020, Clarence Gilyard Jr. spoke about Die Hard’s appeal and why it is considered iconic. “A Christmas film, no less!” He declared. He then spoke about landing the role as one of the terrorists in the film. “So I get the call, and because I’ve unplugged from mainstream Hollywood to straighten out my life as a mature person, it was surreal. I kind of didn’t believe it. And especially when they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Clarence Gilyard Jr. also shared that the script made it seem like the film couldn’t do without him. “But I’m making a strategic move back to Hollywood with some projects, so I had to think about it. And then, when I realized what it was, which was a Super Bowl-sized campaign to surprise the audience into thinking a new Die Hard movie was coming out, I said, Well, I gotta do this. And it still is surreal!”