Updated November 28, 2022 - 6:39 pm
Clarence Gilyard, a film and TV star who cherished his role as a UNLV theater professor, has died. He was 66. UNLV’s College of Fine Arts announced Gilyard’s death in a news release Monday afternoon.
Gilyard had been suffering from a long illness. No further details are yet available.
Gilyard was a UNLV Department of Film professor since 2006. By then, he was a well-established television, film and theater professional for more than 30 years.
Gilyard was famous for his role as computer-terror expert Theo in the 1988 thriller “Die Hard.” For 13 years, he was on prime time, network TV on “Matlock,” portraying Andy Griffith’s private investigator, Conrad McMasters; then as Jimmy Trivette on “Walker, Texas Ranger,” opposite Chuck Norris.
Gilyard had actually put his career on pause for a time to focus on teaching at UNLV.
“My manager-agent is not happy that I’m not working, but the university is just too much fun. And once you start a semester and meet those students, it’s like doing a TV series,” Gilyard said in 2010. “You’re plugged into them. How can you leave them once you see in their eyes that they’re depending on you? They have aspirations for their own growth for those 15 weeks.”
UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy Uscher said she felt “profound sadness” in announcing Gilyard’s death.
“His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments,” Uscher said in a statement. “His generosity of spirit was boundless — he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible.”
Said UNLV film chair Heather Addison, “Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years.”
Gilyard revived his role as Theo for a two-minute, Die Hard battery commercial that aired during Super Bowl LV in February 2o21.
The project reunited Gilyard and “Die Hard” co-star Bruce Willis as New York City Police Detective John McClane. Gilyard even mused about resuming the “Die Hard” franchise.
“When I got back involved, I thought, ‘This, I should do.’” he said in December 2020. “The scale, the toys, the focus, the collaboration all feels like a return to the mainstream of Hollywood.”
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