After a battle with colon cancer, the iconic actor passed away in his Los Angeles home on June 4th, according to his manager.
Williams III was best known for playing the hippie detective Linc Hayes in the groundbreaking police crime drama series The Mod Squad, which ran for five seasons in the late 60s to early 70s. He also played Prince's abusive father in the 1984 musical drama film Purple Rain. His other credits include roles in Miami Vice, Twin Peaks,and Star Trek. More recently, he made an appearance in 2013 Lee Daniels' The Butler.
A Harlem native, Williams III was the grandson of jazz pianist Clarence Williams and singer-actress Eva Taylor, who primarily raised him. He was married to actress Gloria Foster for 17 years, who played Oracle in The Matrix. Before his breakthrough roles in film, his acting career began on Broadway, where he earned a Tony nomination for his role as William Hanley in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground in 1965.
Celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, Leslie Jones, and Vernon Reid have been paying their tributes.
When I was a kid growing up in NYC Clarence Williams III was a face on TV that I identified with and that inspired me. From the Mod Squad, to Purple Rain and Sugar Hill, he always performed with dynamic energy. Rest in power, king pic.twitter.com/GIZLSjp4uV— Lenny Kravitz (@Lenny Kravitz) 1623018013
When I heard Clarence Williams III Had passed I rem the night I met him at Dan Tanas in the summer of 1997!I ask for a pic with my disposal camera. He took the camera and directed every one of these pics! He was one of the nicest people I ever met. And very funny! RIP&TY #ICONpic.twitter.com/2Hvdek7jqV— Leslie Jones \ud83e\udd8b (@Leslie Jones \ud83e\udd8b) 1623042206
Mod Squad broke new ground. Clarence Williams III broke new ground. You can draw a direct line from Clarence Williams III to both Denzel & Idris. It\u2019s his MF moody blood running through The Kid in Purple Rain that\u2019s the furnace of his pain & genius. Rest In Power , Linc.https://twitter.com/thr/status/1401625280024911872\u00a0\u2026— Vernon Reid (@Vernon Reid) 1623010434
He leaves behind a daughter, Jamey Phillips, who remains out of the public eye.
Rest in Peace, Clarence.
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