Clarence Gilyard, who died, was best known to Texans as one of the actors on the show Walker, Texas Ranger. He was 66.
The University of Nevada Las Vegas said in a statement that came out Monday that Gilyard had been sick for a long time. He taught theatre at the college of fine arts at the university.
Gilyard went to Cal State Dominguez Hills to study acting. In 1981, he got his first role on the TV show Diff’rent Strokes.
In Top Gun (1986), he played a naval flight officer named Sundown. This was his first movie role. In the movie Die Hard, he also played Theo, an expert on computer security (1988). He played Andy Griffith’s private investigator, Conrad McMasters, in 85 episodes of the TV show Matlock.
From 1993 to 2001, he wore a cowboy hat and played James Trivette, Chuck Norris’s sidekick in the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger.
Gilyard took a break from acting after the show ended so he could get a master’s degree in theatre performance from Southern Methodist University. This was the start of his career as a teacher.
“I was built to teach. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017: “I’m a professional, but the profession has to feed the classroom.” “Because I know how people live in the 21st century, it gives me ideas for my characters.”
When Gilyard was in Dallas in 2004, he was in the Permanent Collection at Kitchen Dog Theater and starred in Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! at SMU.
Gilyard moved from Los Angeles to North Texas, but his wife and two children stayed in Los Angeles. In 2001, he told The Dallas Morning News that being alone made it hard for him to say no to temptation, which led to the end of his marriage.
“All jets, all cylinders, and all chambers of the gun were firing when I got to Dallas,” he told The News. “But that kind of energy can only last a few months. I was working so hard that I didn’t get enough sleep.”
Gilyard’s co-star Sheree J. Wilson could see that he was having trouble. She told The News, “There was a time when it was clear that Clarence was really upset and had a lot of personal problems.” Gilyard, who was a Protestant, decided to become a Catholic.
Father John Dick, the parochial vicar at St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell, was one of his closest advisors. Gilyard moved there after living for a few years in a penthouse apartment on McKinney Avenue.
Father Paul Weinberger, who was the pastor of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Oak Cliff, was another person who helped guide Gilyard.
Weinberger said that Gilyard’s outspoken opposition to abortion was a risk for the actor, who he praised.
Gilyard said in 2001, “I’m a conservative, Catholic, Black actor.” “Socially, spiritually, and culturally, there are a lot of things that go into that.”
Weinberger said, “If people are disappointed by who Clarence Gilyard really is, they are missing out on a good actor, a good man, and a good Catholic.”
Nate Bynum, who worked with Gilyard at UNLV, said in a statement that Gilyard will be missed.
“It might surprise some people to learn that Clarence valued his job as a university professor as much or more than his famous career as a TV star,” said Bynum. “It was one of his main goals. He really cared about the people he taught in his classroom. Gone too soon.”