Actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., who co-starred as James Trivette on CBS’ Walker, Texas Ranger, has died at the age of 66.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where Gilyard had been a film professor since 2006, announced the actor’s death in a press release on Monday. A cause of death was not given, but Gilyard had reportedly been battling a long illness.
“His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him,” said Nancy J. Uscher, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at UNLV. “He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments. His generosity of spirit was boundless — he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible. We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude for all he contributed to the College of Fine Arts, the UNLV community, and, through his impressive personal achievements, to the world.”
Gilyard was best known to TV fans as Walker, Texas Ranger‘s Jimmy, the partner and best friend of Chuck Norris’ Cordell Walker. He made his debut in the series premiere and went on to appear in almost all of Walker, Texas Ranger‘s 200-plus episodes, as well as two Walker TV movies. Other notable TV credits included Matlock (which he joined in Season 4 as private investigator Conrad McMasters), CHiPs and the short-lived NBC sitcom The Duck Factory.
On the film side, Gilyard held roles in two staples of 1980s pop culture, appearing as Hans Gruber’s techie Theo in Die Hard and naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun.
“It’s with great sadness to hear of the passing of a dear friend and co-star, Clarence Gilyard,” Norris wrote in an Instagram tribute on Tuesday. “For nearly a decade we had many great times working together and we both loved bringing the bad guys to justice. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children. You will be deeply missed by all who knew you. May you Rest In Peace, my friend. Until we meet again.”