Gilyard in 2018
Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr.
December 24, 1955
Moses Lake, Washington, U.S.
|Other names||Clarence A. Gilyard|
|Education||California State University, Long Beach|
California State University, Dominguez Hills (BA)
Southern Methodist University (MFA)
|Occupation||College professor, actor, author|
Elena (second wife; 2001–present)
Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr. (born December 24, 1955) is an American actor, college professor, and author who has been featured in movies, television and regional theatre since 1980. He is sometimes credited as Clarence A. Gilyard.
Gilyard is known for his roles as second private investigator and right-hand man Conrad McMasters to Ben Matlock (played by Andy Griffith) on the legal drama series Matlock from 1989 to 1993; Pastor Bruce Barnes in the Left Behind movie trilogy; Cordell Walker's (played by Chuck Norris) Texas Ranger partner, James "Jimmy" Trivette, in the 1990s crime drama Walker, Texas Ranger; Theo, the terrorist computer expert in Die Hard; and Lieutenant (junior grade) Marcus "Sundown" Williams in Top Gun.
Gilyard was born into a military family in Moses Lake, Washington, on Christmas Eve, in 1955, the son of Barbara and Clarence Gilyard Sr., a U.S. Air Force officer. His family was originally from New Orleans, Louisiana but Gilyard grew up on Air Force bases in Hawaii, Texas, and Florida. Raised primarily as a Lutheran, he became Catholic in the 1990s.
During his young adulthood, Gilyard lived in the San Bernardino suburb of Rialto, California and attended Eisenhower High School. He was an excellent student, graduating in 1974, and afterward spent a year as an Air Force Academy cadet before leaving the service to attend Sterling College. In college, he played football and he is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He also received a tennis scholarship but dropped out of school before completing his studies.
Gilyard is the second of six children.
While living with his parents in during high school, Gilyard was preoccupied with women, alcohol and, occasionally, drugs. His parents urged him to move out and he relocated to Long Beach, California with a friend. He attended California State University, Long Beach, majoring in acting, and worked as a waiter while seeking acting opportunities. He would eventually complete his bachelor's degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Gilyard worked with a housemate at a clothing store, where he was promoted to manager. He left this to work briefly selling industrial chemicals.
In 2003, Gilyard returned to school, receiving a Master of Fine Arts in theatre performance at Southern Methodist University. He is an Associate Professor in the College of Fine Arts – Department of Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In 1979, Gilyard moved to Los Angeles to become an actor. Among other work, a role in the play Bleacher Bums made him what one magazine called "the first black actor to play a cheerleader". before he segued into television roles. As a character actor, Gilyard has made guest appearances on TV shows such as Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, 227, Simon & Simon and Riptide. In 1982–1983, Gilyard was cast in the final season of the NBC TV series CHiPs as Officer Benjamin Webster, opposite Erik Estrada. He co-starred with Jim Carrey in the 1984 NBC sitcom The Duck Factory. He appeared in a commercial for McDonald's in 1987.
Gilyard's movie debut in 1986 was as an F-14 Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), LTJG Marcus "Sundown" Williams, in Top Gun. He was also a military man in the 1986 film The Karate Kid Part II. He appeared in the 1988 action film Die Hard as Theo, a computer expert and thief. He also appeared as Reverend Bruce Barnes Left Behind: The Movie and its sequel, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.
He played the role of Ben Matlock's private investigator, Conrad McMasters, on Matlock, opposite Andy Griffith, from 1989 to 1993. He replaced Kene Holliday, who was fired for his dependency on drugs and alcohol. Gilyard appeared in almost every Matlock episode during his first three seasons on the show. When the show moved from NBC to ABC for the series' seventh season, production moved from Los Angeles, California to Wilmington, North Carolina. Andy Griffith suggested to Gilyard that he move there, too, which he did, before departing to work on a pilot for another series at CBS the following year.
In 1993, he began another long-time co-starring role opposite Chuck Norris on Walker, Texas Ranger. Gilyard portrayed fellow Texas Ranger and best friend of Walker, James "Jimmy" Trivette. Near the end of the series, Norris' character married his longtime girlfriend, an assistant district attorney, while Gilyard's character was given a girlfriend. Gilyard had a cameo appearance in the 2005 television movie, Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire.
In 2012, after taking time off to teach, Gilyard began appearing onscreen again, mostly in independent projects. In 2014, he appeared in the religious film A Matter of Faith.
On January 17, 2016, Gilyard performed the role of Hoak Colburn onstage at The University of New Mexico's Popejoy Hall in The Neil Simon Festival's Driving Miss Daisy, opposite his former Walker, Texas Ranger co-star, Sheree J. Wilson.
In the 2018 edition of the football video game Madden NFL, Gilyard plays high-school coach Devin Wade in the "Longshot" section of the game. Two years later, Gilyard reprised his role as criminal gang-member Theo from Die Hard, alongside star Bruce Willis, in a commercial for Advance Auto Parts' DieHard brand of car batteries.
Gilyard serves as the consultant of the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic Bishops.
He has been married twice and has five children. He and his second wife, Elena, have been married since 2001.
- CHiPs (1982–1983, TV Series) - Officer Benjamin Webster
- The Duck Factory (1984, TV Series) - Roland Culp
- Top Gun (1986) – Marcus "Sundown" Williams
- The Karate Kid Part II (1986) - G.I. #1
- Simon & Simon (1986, TV Series) - Wally Stokes
- Off the Mark (1987) - James B. White
- Die Hard (1988) - Theo
- L.A. Takedown (1989, TV Movie) - Mustafa Jackson
- Matlock (1989-1993, TV Series) – Conrad McMasters
- Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001, TV Series) - James "Jimmy" Trivette
- Walker Texas Ranger 3: Deadly Reunion (1995) - James "Jimmy" Trivette
- Left Behind: The Movie (2001) - Bruce Barnes
- Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002) - Pastor Bruce Barnes
- Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire (2005, TV Movie) - James "Jimmy" Trivette
- Top Gun 2: Back to Traffic School (2012, Short) - Marcus "Sundown" Williams
- Little Monsters (2012) - Ben Foreman
- Chasing Shakespeare (2013) - Jeremiah Ward
- A Matter of Faith (2014) - Professor Portland
- The Track (2015) - Psychiatrist
- Rabbit Days (2016) - Auguste Porter
- The Sector (2016) - Reverend Raines
- Christmas on the Coast (2017) - Fletcher Reese
- The Perfect Race (2019) - Coach Michaels
- The Dance of the Star (1990)
- Instructors and Students (1992)
- Eagle in a Cage (1996)
- Perfume at Night (1997)
- Melancholy in the Mirror (2002)
- Past and Present: My Story (2005)
- The Game of Venus (2006)
- Memories of a Stranger Wanderer (2008)
- Cry of the Cat (2010)
- Red Lights (2011)[ISBN missing]
- Feister, Joh (April 2009). "The Eucharistic Faith of Actor Clarence Gilyard". St. Anthony Messenger. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21.
- "Clarence Gilyard Jr. (Junior)". TV.com. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04.
- Pattison, Mark (2005-06-10). "Actor Gilyard finds Catholicism is role for a lifetime". The Tidings. Archived from the original on 2011-04-10. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- "Clarence Gilyard Biography – Yahoo! Movies".
- "Clarence Gilyard, M.F.A." University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
- "Clarence Gilyard: Professor, Stage & Screen Acting/ Film". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
- "The Neil Simon Festival's Driving Miss Daisy". Popejoy Hall, The University of New Mexico: Popejoy Presents. Archived from the original on March 4, 2015.
- Ramos, Dino-Ray (October 18, 2020). "Bruce Willis Reprises His Role As John McClane In Commercial For Die Hard…Car Batteries". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 19, 2020.