Remembering ‘The Mod Squad’ Actor Clarence Williams III Dies at Age 81

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Clarence Williams III, the man who played the undercover cop Linc Hayes on “The Mod Squad” has passed away at the age of 81. According to his manager, Allan Mindel, he died in his Los Angeles home after battling colon cancer.

Williams was born in New York City, New York on Aug. 21, 1939. He grew up with his grandparents. His grandfather was the legendary jazz composer and pianist Clarence Williams, and his grandmother, Eva Taylor, was a blues singer.

He became interested in acting when he attended the YMCA as a teen. There his love for dramatics grew into an eventual career. For two years, Williams was enlisted with the United States Air Force.

WilliamsIn 1960, Williams had his first minor stage debut in New York with “The Long Dream.” From there he scored impressive roles in “Walk in Darkness,” “Sarah and the Sax,” and “Doubletalk.” Early in his acting career, Williams won a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination for his role in the three-person play “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.”

In 1966, he worked in the powerful plays “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” and “King John.” Afterwhich the Vietnam era Hollywood finally began to notice his talents as an “angry young man.”

He worked alongside Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton in the 1968 TV series “The Mod Squad.” His character Linc Hayes sported a huge Afro, paisley shirts, and dark sunglasses. Williams’ catchphrases included “dig it” and “solid.” The show ended in 1973.

Other features that he starred in include “Purple Rain” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” He also had a recurring role in the 1990 TV series “Twin Peaks.” Williams can also be seen in “Deep Cover,” “Against the Wall,” and as Wesley Snipes drug-addicted father in “Sugar Hill.”

He portrayed powerful roles in the TV shows “Law & Order,” “Profiler,” and “Judging Amy.” His acting career continued on with “Reindeer Games,” and “Ritual” in 2000.

In November 1967, he married Gloria Foster. By 1984, they were divorced. When Foster passed away in 2001 it was Williams who announced the news.

He is survived by his wife Kelly, family, and friends.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

NPR: Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’ And ‘Purple Rain’ Actor, Dies At 81

IMDb: Clarence Williams III

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of DeShaun Craddock’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

 

 

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