“Top Gun” Star Passes Away

(HorizonPost.com) – Former actor Clarence Gilyard, best known for playing the computer hacker Theo in “Die Hard,” and naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in “Top Gun,” died last Monday at the age of 66.

In a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where Gilyard worked as an associate professor of fine arts, Dean Nancy Uscher announced Gilyard’s death, describing him as extraordinarily talented and a dedicated teacher.

UNLV film chair Heather Addison called “Professor G” a “beacon of light and strength” for those who knew him at UNLV.

No further details about his death have been made public.

Gilyard, who studied Theatre Arts at California State University, landed his first role on the TV sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” in 1981.

He made his film debut in “Top Gun” in 1986. Two years later, he was cast as Theo, the slimy hacker who helps the terrorist group crack the computerized safe in the film “Die Hard.”

Gilyard’s big primetime TV break came in 1989 when he was cast in the role of Conrad McMasters on the legal drama “Matlock” starring Andy Griffith. He went on to play Chuck Norris’ partner Jimmy Trivette on “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

His other acting credits include “The Karate Kid Part II,” “CHiPS,” and the “Left Behind” film series.

In 2006, Gilyard stepped away from acting to take the associate professor position at UNLV where he also directed productions at the university’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre.

In a 2017 interview, Gilyard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was “wired to teach,” explaining that he works best as an artist when he is in a “creative and imaginative” arena where he can siphon the creative energy of “all those millennials” he teaches.

In 2021, Gilyard made a brief return to television when he reunited with fellow “Die Hard” alums Bruce Willis and De’voreaux White for a “Die Hard”-themed battery commercial.

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