R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard, James Trivette on 'Walker, Texas Ranger,' Theo in original 'Die Hard'

After 15 straight years on network television, Gilyard stepped back from acting to teach theater and screen acting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The Everett Collection

With prominent roles both hit television series and films, the career of actor Clarence Gilyard won't soon be forgotten. Gilyard's death was announced Monday, Nov. 28, 2022 via a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he taught as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts, according to CNN.

Gilyard wanted a career in show business after enrolling in acting classes at California State University, Long Beach. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gilyard eventually dropped out after making some progress outside of school. 

His first television role came in 1981, appearing in a pair of episodes of Diff'rent Strokes. In 1982, Gilyard landed a recurring role during the crime drama CHiPs' final season, as Officer Ben Webster. 

His career continued to pick up steam over the next handful of years with a spot appearance in Riptide, before playing naval officer Marcus "Sundown" Williams in Top Gun in 1986. Gilyard followed up that role with spots on TV series including Simon & Simon, 227 and The Facts of Life before getting his big break on the silver screen.

His role of computer hacker and tech expert Theo was a memorable one in the 1988 action thriller Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis. According to THR, Gilyard "revived his role as Theo for a well-received Die Hard battery commercial that aired during Super Bowl LV in February 2021."

He then landed the P.I. role of Conrad McMasters in Matlock, opposite of Andy Griffith. He played the part from seasons four to seven and returned as a guest in season eight.

In 1993, Gilyard joined forces with Chuck Norris as Ranger James Trivette in Walker, Texas Ranger, arguably his career-defining television role that lasted until 2001. 

Gilyard changed paths in the mid-2000s. He began teaching at UNLV in 2006, suitably in screen and theater acting, according to THR. He also directed productions at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. He told the Review-Journal he switched to teaching after he met his wife. 

"We had kids, and my first two children didn't have me," Gilyard said. "I was out acting all the time - 15 straight years on network television. But the commitment to my family and my wife is paramount." 

Nancy Uscher, Dean of UNLV's College of Fine Arts said in an Instagram statement Gilyard's 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."

The actor was 66. 

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

32 Comments

Fior 1 month ago
Great tribute to Gilyard. Thank you.
DethBiz 1 month ago
RIP Clarence Gilyard. Will always remember him for his work on Matlock and Walker. I thought he and Chuck Norris had a good chemistry together on that show as partners.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard. He was GREAT in both Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger! I do remember him in Die Hard as well. he will be missed.
CortneyNicole 2 months ago
He will truly be missed since I saw him on Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris great actor!

RIP Clarence Gilyard
texasluva 2 months ago
Always liked him in Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger. Liked his part in Die Hard as the tech guru guy for Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Though the Limo Driver knocked him for a loop near the end. Played a criminal so got his just due. R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard-
JHP 2 months ago
the line is long

here is another one :(:(:(:'

Christine McVie - beautiful voice and beautiful woman
LalaLucy JHP 1 month ago
Oh, no! Hadn't heard about her! Another one of my mother's favorites, along with Gilyard. This has been a really tough week. 😔
JHP LalaLucy 1 month ago
I cant get "you make loving fun" out of my noggin
Maverick66 2 months ago
Liked him as Conrad & Trivette. Sad that he died so young.
denisetejral 2 months ago
In reference to the not aging well comment,I had meant to say that I thought he aged very well in my previous post
The Wikipedia photo certainly might prove otherwise to some (a matter of personal opinion or taste)
But I think that radiantly beautiful smile still graced his gorgeous aged face well into his 60s !!
Once again,you will live on in lotsa ❤️s
Condolences to his 6 offspring!!
RIP Conrad!!
zoodad 2 months ago
He did a great job in the Left Behind movies. He also made a great Tonto to the Lone Ranger Matlock, he always seemed to take a beating while out discovering clues but helped the main character come out ahead in the end.
LalaLucy 2 months ago
Reading this really hurt my heart today. He was my absolute favorite of all Matlock's helpers and he has long been the only reason I watch Walker with my husband. He added so much to anything he was in. Definitely a class act from everything I ever read. Prayers to all mourning his loss.
MrsPhilHarris LalaLucy 2 months ago
He was my fav Matlock guy too.
Michael LalaLucy 2 months ago
Thefirst assistant seemed distant, Clarence seemed more like an equal to Matlock.
hermanstein2015 2 months ago
Absolutely loved him in Matlock and WTR. Such a tragic loss. God speed!
bagandwallyfan52 2 months ago
Maybe someday METV will show Reruns of Walker Texas Ranger.
I also heard that there is a new version
Of Walker Texas Ranger .
Does anyone out there know the name of the actor who plays Walker in the
new version?
Barry22 bagandwallyfan52 2 months ago
Heroes and Icons show Walker endlessly.
CatBeau Barry22 2 months ago
getTV also.
Peter_Falk_Fan 2 months ago
He was great in "Die Hard". There's a lot of good banter in the movie. I always liked this one:

Hans Gruber: Now, you *can* break the code?
Theo: You didn't bring me along for my charming personality.

R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard
Yes, and if I remember correctly, didn't he have a zinger when he shot the security guard? BTW, i saw a recent photo on Wikipedia and he certainly didn't age well!
Michael cperrynaples 2 months ago
I saw a 2008 photo, and he looked great. A greying beard, he looked like the university professor he was.
cperrynaples Michael 2 months ago
A correction on Gilyard in Die Hard: His partner shoots the guard, but he makes a basketball joke right after!
Michael cperrynaples 2 months ago
That's when he jumps over the counter?
cperrynaples Michael 2 months ago
Yep, after he makes the basketball joke! He's funnier than Alan Rickman but not even close to Bruce!
denisetejral 2 months ago
One of the most beautiful faces
of any actor on any screen!! And
he quite handsomely!
That gorgeous man will be greatly missed
and always remembered at 10am ET weekday mornings !!
R.I.P. Conrad 🙏🏻
Matsui 2 months ago
R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard, I will always remember him most as the Die Hard (1988) terrorist that helps opens the Big Safe in Nakatomi tower. Of course it opens finally mainly because of the Power Outage.
BenSobeleone Matsui 1 month ago
"You ask for miracles Theo, I give you the F.B.I."
LoveMETV22 2 months ago
R.I.P. Clarence Gilyard. Enjoyed his appearances in Film and Television.
Michael 2 months ago
After I watched Matlock on MeTV, I noticed his name in Die Hard. He looks different, maybe just manerisms. So he wasn't immediately recognizable.

I certainly liked him on Matlock. 66 is pretty young, but now I'm 63 so age is different from when I wss younger.
Barry22 2 months ago
Liked him in Matlock and Walker. RIP
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?