Clarence Gilyard’s commitment to wife Elena and kids was ‘paramount’

Top Gun and Karate Kid II star Clarence Gilyard Jr has passed away at 66, leaving behind his wife Elena and their children.

The American actor’s death was confirmed by the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where he worked as a film and theatre professor in recent years.

Amid the devastating news of his passing, we take a look at the actor’s remarkable career, iconic roles and family life.

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Photo by J. P. Aussenard/WireImage

Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at 66

Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at the age of 66. A cause of death hasn’t been confirmed at this time but the actor’s passing was announced by UNLV film chair Heather Addison to Variety.

“Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him,” 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!”

One of Clarence’s most famous roles was as computer hacker Theo alongside Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in Die Hard (1988), Marcus ‘Sundown’ Williams in Top Gun (1986) and Karate Kid II in 1986.

From 1989 to 1993, Clarence portrayed the character of Conrad McMasters in the mystery legal drama Matlock.

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He went on to star in Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993 to 2001 alongside Chuck Norris and reprised his role in the spin-offs Walker Texas Ranger 3: Deadly Reunion, Sons of Thunder and Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire.

Clarence Gilyard Jr’s commitment to wife Elena and kids ‘paramount’

Clarence, who was married twice, tied the knot with Catherine Dutko before marrying his second wife Elena back in 2001. The actor had welcomed six children from his two marriages.

In an interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal in November 2017, the Top Gun star said that his commitment to his wife Elena and their children was “paramount” while he was busy pursuing a career in Hollywood.

“I met my wife, got married, then we had kids, and my first two children didn’t have me,” he told the outlet.

“I was out acting all the time — 15 straight years on network television. But the commitment to my family and my wife is paramount. I knew if I didn’t work on the marriage that it wouldn’t work.”

When asked about food that he could eat all day, Clarence said that his wife Elena “makes a chicken enchilada that is killer”.

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Tributes paid to actor

The film community and fans are mourning Clarence’s death and many have paid their condolences on social media.

“We’re heartbroken to learn that Clarence Gilyard Jr has passed away,” Showmasters wrote in the tribute above. “Clarence appeared in some of the 80s top movies & TV shows. We were fortunate to host Clarence at #LFCC earlier this year and enjoyed hearing his tales from set. Our thoughts go out to his friends & family.

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“RIP Clarence Gilyard Jr,” another tribute read. “One of the greats.”

“Sad to hear of the passing of actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for Die Hard, Top Gun, & Walker: Texas Ranger. Rest in Peace,” a third fan said.

Another fan wrote: “When I was a kid Clarence Gilyard Jr. was in all of the best TV shows and movies.”

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