Sad news as Clarence Williams III has died at the age of 81. The news was confirmed by the Harlem-born actor's representative that The Mod Squad actor died on Friday following complications with colon cancer. While best known for his role in the ABC show, he also appeared on the big screen in Purple Rain, Half-Baked, Sugar Hill, and Tales From the Hood just to name a few.
Born in 1939 in New York, Williams was the only child of professional musician Clay Williams Jr and actress Eva Taylor. He was also the grandson of jazz pianist and composer Clarence Williams. He served in the US Army for two years before deciding to pursue a career in acting. He made his professional debut on stage in The Long Dream on Broadway in 1960. He went on to appear in several other Broadway productions over the next 8 years, including William Hanley's Slow Dance on The Killing Ground, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. By the time he was making a name for himself as a credible actor, he made the transfer to television that would see his career go from strength to strength.
His breakout role was in the TV cop series The Mod Squad in which he appeared for 123 episodes from 1968 to 1973 when the series ended. He played undercover police officer Linc Hayes in the popular series, which also stared Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole.
Following this, he moved onto other genres clearly not wanting to be typecast in future. In a career that ended up spanning forty years his diverse list of credits included playing Prince's father in the movie Purple Rain, having a recurring role in David Lynch's cult TV series Twin Peaks, and as Wesley Snipes' dad in Sugar Hill.
His many other TV roles saw him appear in The Littlest Hobo, Miami Vice, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Highwayman, Burn Notice, Everybody Hates Chris, Justified, and Law & Order, while his movie roles included The Cool World, Deep Cover, Tales from the Hood, Half-Baked, Hoodlum, Frogs for Snakes, Starstruck, The General's Daughter and Reindeer Games.
In 2003 he made his first appearance as Philby Cross in the Mystery Woman film series for Hallmark, which he would continue to star in until 2007. At the same time, her had another recurring role in the Disney series American Dragon Jake Long as Councillor Andam. Towards the end of his career, he had role in Ridley Scott's American Gangster as Bumpy Johnson, starred in A Day In The Life, The Butler and Snowbird in 2016, which would be his last professional acting credit.
In his personal life, Williams was married to Gloria Foster in 1967. The pair worked together when he acted on The Mod Squad, with Foster appearing in two episodes. They also starred in the film The Cool World. The pair filed for divorce in 1984, but they remained good friends after the split and it was Williams who announced Foster's death in 2001. This news originated at CNN.