By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Clarence Williams III had a long and distinguished career that included appearances on Broadway and in multiple films. But for many in the baby boom generation Williams, who passed on June 3, 2021 at 81, will be forever remembered for a pair of iconic performances. They came in the ABC television series “The Mod Squad” and the film “Purple Rain.” 

He portrayed Linc Hayes on “The Mod Squad” and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain.” The cause of death was confirmed by his management as colon cancer.

Williams became a household name in 1968 as one of the stars of “The Mod Squad” along with  Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole. The role as Prince’s father came in 1984’s “Purple Rain.” Williams also had a recurring role as FBI Agent Roger Hardy on “Twin Peaks.” His long collaboration with director John Frankenheimer began with the role of  Bobby Shy in 1986’s “52 Pick-Up.” He also played Chaka in 1994’s “Against the Wall,” Archie in the 1997 TV movie “George Wallace,” and Merlin in 2000’s “Reindeer Games.”

Williams’ acting career began on stage in “Dark of the Moon” in 1957. He also starred opposite Geraldine Page in “The Great Outdoors” on Broadway. In 1965, Williams earned a Tony nomination and Theatre World award for his starring performance in “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.” Williams’ other theater credits include co-starring with Maggie Smith in Tom Stoppard’s “Night and Day” and leading Joseph Papp’s “King John” at the Delacorte Theatre.

His other film credits include “The General’s Daughter,” “Sugar Hill,” “Half Baked,” “Deep Cover,” “Hoodlum,” “The Brave,” “Happy Here and Now,” “The Legend of 1900” and “Life.” More recently, Williams appeared in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” in 2013 as Maynard.