Hollywood is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Clarence Gilyard Jr.—an actor and college professor whose career spanned nearly four decades including roles in "Top Gun," "Die Hard," "Matlock" and "Walker, Texas Ranger," died on Nov. 28 at the age of 66.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where Gilyard served as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts, confirmed his passing and honored the actor's legacy in a statement.
"It is with profound sadness that I share this news," Dean Nancy J. Uscher said in a Nov. 29 statement on Instagram. "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. He had a national and international following through his celebrated work in the theatre, in film, and television."
"His generosity of spirit was boundless," she continued. "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."
UNLV film department chair Heather Addison also remembered Gilyard as "a beacon of light and strength."
"Whenever we asked him how he was," she noted. "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."
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Though the actor was well known for his impressive career, as UNLV theatre professor Nate Bynum noted, the pride Gilyard had for his position as a teacher was endless.
"Some may find it surprising to know that Clarence valued his appointment as a university professor as highly, maybe higher, then his illustrious career as a TV star," Bynum said. "It was a major goal for him. He loved his UNLV family and, in particular, the students he instructed in his classroom. Gone too soon."
His cause of death has not been confirmed at this time.