Clarence Gilyard Jr dies aged 66: Top Gun and Die Hard star passes away after ‘suffering from a long illness’
Top Gun and Die Hard star Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at the age of 66.
The talented actor, who turned his back on Hollywood to become a film and theatre professor at UNLV College of Fine Arts is said to have been suffering from a long illness before his death.
In a statement released by the university they said the actor would be ‘loved and missed dearly’.
RIP: Top Gun and Die Hard star Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at the age of 66 away after ‘suffering from a long illness’ (pictured in 2018)
‘Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him,’ UNLV film chair Heather Addison said.
‘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 made his film debut in 1986’s Top Gun, starring alongside Tom Cruise as F-14 Tomcat radar intercept officer, Lt. (jg) Marcus ‘Sundown’ Williams.
It was easy for Gilyard to adapt to the role, having been born into a military family and raised on Air Force bases in Hawaii, Texas, and Florida.
He did not reprise his role for the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.
His most notable role, however, was that of Theo, Hans Gruber’s [Alan Rickman] computer hacker in 1988’s Die Hard.
He revisited the role in 2020 when he starred in Advance Auto Parts’ 2020 commercial promoting DieHard car batteries.
Gilyard was married twice and had six children.
More to follow.
As seen on screen: Clarence played Lt. Marcus ‘ Sundown’ Williams in Top Gun (pictured with Adrian Pasdar as Lt. Charles ‘Chipper’ Piper)
Famous face: His most notable role was that of Theo, Hans Gruber’s computer hacker in 1988’s Die Hard