Clarence Gilyard, star of Die Hard and Walker, Texas Ranger, dies at 66

After a long illness. Since 2006 she has been teaching film and theater at the College of Fine Arts

Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died at the age of 66. The American actor, who passed away after a long illness, is best known for his roles in ‘Die Hard’ and in the telefilms ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ and ‘Matlock’ . The announcement of the disappearance, without further details, was given in a statement from the University of Nevada, based in Las Vegas, where Gilyard had been a professor of film and theater at the College of Fine Arts since 2006.

In a rich and varied career that spanned nearly five decades, Gilyard achieved success in film, television and on the theater stage. For film buffs, he is known for playing Theo, the presumptuous computer hacker of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in the film ‘Die Hard – Crystal Trap’ (1988) by director John McTiernan, which above all marked the start of the great Bruce Willis career.

In the 1990s, Gilyard was a familiar face on television, first playing private eye Conrad McMasters in the legal drama ‘Matlock’ and then, in a career-defining role, as ranger James Trivette in the long-running series ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’.

Born Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr. in Moses Lake, Washington on December 24, 1955, he was the son of a US Air Force officer. After high school he had entered the Air Force Academy, but after a year he decided that his path would be that of an actor and enrolled in an acting class.

He made his debut with a small role in the TV series ‘My Friend Arnold’ (1981), which was followed by numerous others, such as in ‘Riptide’, ‘Simon & Simon’ and ‘The Apple Tree’. Gilyard’s big television break came in 1989, when he landed the role of Conrad McMasters on NBC’s ‘Matlock’, where he played Ben Matlock’s second private eye in nearly every episode from seasons four through seven, with guest appearances in the eighth season, for a total of 96 episodes.

In 1993, he left ‘Matlock’ to star in CBS’ ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, the television series with which Gilyard is most associated. Starring opposite Chuck Norris, Gilyard played Texas Ranger Sergeant James ‘Jimmy’ Trivette, best friend and partner of the protagonist. ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ enjoyed phenomenal popularity for eight seasons, totaling 203 episodes, and spawned a 2005 television movie, in which Gilyard made a cameo appearance.

Gilyard’s first film appearance was in 1986, with the not inconsiderable role of junior lieutenant Marcus ‘Sundown’ Williams, one of the elite fighter pilots in Tony Scott’s film ‘Top Gun’.