Clarence Gilyard Jr dead at 66 – Die Hard and Top Gun actor passes away after 30 year big screen career | The Sun

TOP Gun and Die Hard star Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at the age of 66.

The actor had been suffering from a long illness, reports say.

His cause of death currently remains unknown.

Gilyard, whose career spanned 30 years, was best known for playing the computer hacker Theo in the hit movie Die Hard.

And, he played the naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in the 1986 film Top Gun.

He played Conrad McMasters – the right-hand man to the attorney Ben Matlock – in the hit drama Matlock between 1989 and 1993.

Gilyard also appeared in the 1990s crime series, Walker Texas Ranger.

He had been working as a theater professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before his death.

Dozens of fans have paid tribute to Gilyard as news of his death emerged.

Sons of Anarchy star Chris Reed branded Gilyard "a legendary screen presence".

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UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy Uscher told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “His generosity of spirit was boundless — he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible.”

And, film chair Heather Addison said: "Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him."

“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 was born in Washington in 1955 and enrolled at the US Air Force Academy before leaving after a year.

He also played football in Kansas before attending California State University in Long Beach where he signed up for an acting class.

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