'Mod Squad' Star Clarence Williams III Dead At 81

Written by on June 6, 2021

Clarence Williams III, who performed the cool undercover cop Linc Hayes on the counterculture collection “The Mod Squad” and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain,” has died. He was 81.

Williams died Friday at his house in Los Angeles after a battle with colon most cancers, his supervisor Allan Mindel stated Sunday. Tributes got here shortly on social media from each those that labored with Williams and people who admired him for his trailblazing roles and impactful performances.

Actor Clarence Williams III at the "Lee Daniels' The Butler" premiere in 2013. He died on Friday at the age of 81.

Actor Clarence Williams III on the “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” premiere in 2013. He died on Friday on the age of 81.

“Tales from the Hood” director Rusty Cundieff tweeted that his disappointment over Williams’ passing, “can’t be overstated. His artistry and sheer coolness was extraordinary. I’ll perpetually be in his debt for his sensible efficiency in Tales From the Hood. Liked working with him! Blessed travels good sir!”

Singer Lenny Kravitz wrote on Twitter:

Director Peyton Reed tweeted that he labored with Williams on the TV film “The Love Bug” in 1995:

Director Lee Daniels, who labored with Williams on the movie “The Butler,” described the actor as extraordinary:

A local of New York, Williams profession spanned over 5 a long time in theater, tv and movie. He was born right into a artistic household in 1939 and raised by his musical grandparents. His grandfather was a jazz composer and pianist, his father a musician and his mom, Eva Taylor, a singer and actress. He acquired his performing begin on Broadway after a stint as a paratrooper and acquired a Tony nomination for his position in William Hanley’s “Gradual Dance on the Killing Floor” in 1964.

His breakout position would include “The Mod Squad,” which he led with Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole. Invoice Cosby had seen Williams carry out and informed Aaron Spelling he ought to take into account him for the position of Linc. The present ran from on ABC from 1968 via 1973. A trailblazing present for trying to painting the hippie era of the time, “The Mod Squad” was a star-maker for all three. However roles weren’t fast to comply with for Williams.

He appeared on Broadway reverse Maggie Smith in Tom Stoppard’s “Evening and Day” in 1979 earlier than getting forged because the troubled father in “Purple Rain,” which got here out in 1984.

Director John Frankenheimer would turn into a frequent collaborator. They first teamed up for his adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s “52 Choose-Up” at a time when Williams was not having a lot luck in Hollywood and crashing on Cosby’s sofa to maintain a roof over his head.

“He requested me to learn for the a part of one of many blackmailers, however after solely 4 strains, he informed me to cease,” Williams recalled in a 1999 interview. “I believed it was throughout, however he stated, ‘Have your agent name me. It will likely be a 10-week shoot. Thanks for coming in.’ That was it.”

Clarence Williams III (Linc), Peggy Lipton (Julie), Michael Cole (Pete) starred in "The Mod Squad."

Clarence Williams III (Linc), Peggy Lipton (Julie), Michael Cole (Pete) starred in “The Mod Squad.”

Williams additionally appeared in Frankenheimer’s “Towards the Wall,” “Reindeer Video games” and a few episodes of “Tales from the Crypt.”

Williams may command a wide range of genres, together with comedy. He performed a drug lord reverse Dave Chappelle in “Half Baked” and stole scenes in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation parody movie “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” He additionally had a recurring position because the FBI agent in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” who tells Agent Cooper he’s been suspended.

Different movie roles included “Tales from the Hood,” “Deep Cowl,” “Sugar Hill, “The Normal’s Daughter” and an uncredited position in “American Gangster.” And he had many, many tv appearances on the whole lot from “Miami Vice” and “Hill Avenue Blues” to “All people Hates Chris” and “Justified.”

He was married to the actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984.

Williams by no means fretted over his longtime affiliation with “The Mod Squad,” although.

“All most individuals find out about me is the 2 hours they’ve invested in a movie show or the time spent in entrance of their TV,” he stated in an interview in 1999. “There’s a lot leisure on the market proper now, it’s tough to interrupt via and turn into a part of the nationwide consciousness. It’s good to be acknowledged, and I’ve no drawback with it in any respect.”


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