Die Hard and Top Gun star Clarence Gilyard Jr dies aged 66

29 November 2022, 09:06

Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died
Clarence Gilyard Jr. has died. Picture: Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Die Hard and Top Gun star Clarence Gilyard Jr has died aged 66.

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The actor was best known for his role as Theo the hacker in Die Hard, after having made his film debut as Sundown in the iconic '80s film Top Gun.

He also appeared in the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger and Matlock.

The University of Nevada confirmed the star's death in a statement, saying he was "a beacon of light".

Gilyard in Top Gun
Gilyard in Top Gun. Picture: Getty
Gilyard as Theo in Die Hard
Gilyard as Theo in Die Hard. Picture: Getty

Gilyard had been working as a film and theatre professor at the university, according to Variety.

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!"

Gilyard starred in Walker, Texas Ranger
Gilyard starred in Walker, Texas Ranger. Picture: Getty

Prior to his successful acting career, Gilyard spent a year at the Air Force Academy as a cadet.

He went on to attend Sterling College and, later, California State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in acting.

Gilyard returned to academia later in life, joining the department of theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an associate professor in 2006.

In 2020, he revived his popular Die Hard role for a battery advert with Bruce Willis that aired during Super Bowl LV.

Gilyard was married twice, with his first marriage ending in divorce.

He married his second wife, Elena, in 2001 and had six children.

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