‘Die Hard’ Actor Clarence Gilyard Dead at 66—Statement in Full

American actor Clarence Gilyard has died at the age of 66.

Gilyard, best known for his roles in Die Hard, Top Gun, and Walker, Texas Ranger, had a lengthy career that spanned the arts including acting and writing as well as a successful career as a professor.

The news of his passing was announced via a statement by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where Gilyard had been working as a professor of film and theater at the UNLV College of Fine Arts.

UNLV Film Chair Heather Addison said: “Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him.

“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!”

Clarence Gilyard
Clarence Gilyard during Left Behind:The Movie Screening at Directors Guild in Los Angeles, California, United States.
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In a separate statement, UNLV College of fine Arts dean Nancy J. Uscher commented: “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.

“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.”

His cause of death remains unknown at time of writing. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Gilyard had been suffering from a long illness.

Tributes to the late actor have been flooding in from fans and members of the film world.

Film critic Courtney Howard wrote: “Actor Clarence Gilyard solidified his place in film history as Theo in DIE HARD (which he revived in a ’21 Super Bowl ad) & in TV as Conrad McMasters in MATLOCK. But he also made an innumerable impact in real life as a film studies professor at UNLV. May he Rest In Peace.”

One fan tweeted: “I met him at Comic Con London in June 2022. What a lovely kind-hearted man he was. I had a photoshoot with him and got his autograph. RIP you will be missed by everyone even by people who only met you briefly.”

Die Hard fans have been left upset by Gilyard’s death, with many taking to Twitter to tweet his much-loved Die Hard line “The quarterback is toast”

Fellow actor Chris Reed, best known for Sons of Anarchy, also paid tribute, describing Gilyard as a “legendary screen presence.”

Gilyard made his film debut as Sundown in 1986’s Top Gun appearing alongside Tom Cruise and catapulted to fame as computer terror expert Theo in 1988’s Die Hard, starring alongside Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman.

He was also well known for playing Conrad McMasters in the ABC series Matlock.

In 1993, Gilyard broke through into prime-time television with his role as Jimmy Trivette, the right-hand man to Chuck Norris’ sergeant on CBSWalker, Texas Ranger.

Gilyard joined the department of theater at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 2006.

He never gave up acting though and recently starred as Fletcher Reese in Christmas on the Coast and Coach Michaels in The Perfect Race.

Gilyard also reprised his role of Theo from Die Hard alongside Willis’ John McClane in an ad for Advanced Auto Parts in 2020.

He is survived by his six children and his wife, Elena Gilyard.

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