By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — He was probably best known for long running roles in “Matlock” and “Walker Texas Ranger.” But actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., who passed last week at 66, also had major roles in such Hollywood film blockbusters as “Top Gun” and “Die Hard.” 

In recent years he had become a college film professor.

Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him,” UNLV film chair Heather Addison said in a statement. “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. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”

He was born in Moses Lake, Washington and began his film and television career in the 1980s, making appearances in films such as “Top Gun” and “The Karate Kid Part II. “However, Gilyard is most remembered for his appearance in the 1988 action film “Die Hard” as Theo, a computer hacker working for Hans Gruber. 

On the television end, Gilyard left his mark with his portrayal of Conrad McMasters on the legal drama “Matlock” and Ranger James Trivette on the CBS series “Walker Texas Ranger.”

In addition to his work in theater, Gilyard was also active as a producer and film director. Gilyard also worked in the field of academia as an associate professor in the College of Fine Arts – Department of Theatre at the University of Las Vegas. 

The cause of death was not named as of press time.