‘The Mod Squad’ Star Clarence Williams III Passes Away at 81

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Clarence Williams, whose artistry and extraordinary calmness started his acting career on Broadway in the early 1960s, passed away, according to reports on Sunday, June 6, 2021; he was 81.

His manager, Allan Mindel, confirmed Sunday that he died on Friday after battling colon cancer. Social media users quickly posted messages from those who had worked with the actor. They shared memories of his groundbreaking roles and poignant performances.

Williams was recognized for his “Slow Dance on Killing Ground” in 1964 with a Tony nomination. He has four NAACP Image Awards; 1998, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for “Millennium” (1996); 1998, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for “Hoodlum” (1997); 2000, Outstanding WilliamsSupporting Actor in a Motion Picture for “The General’s Daughter” (1999); and in 2007 Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for “Wild West Mystery” (2006). In 2004, TV Land Awards, he was nominated for Most Memorable Mane in The Mod Squad (1968).

In 1963, Williams III started a 5-year stint playing a hip undercover cop with a modest ‘fro; by the final season, his mane was quite impressive. His character was part of “The Mod Squad,” a trio of reformed juvenile delinquents Williams as Lin Hayes, Michael Cole as Pete Cochran, and Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes.

Director Payton Reed tweeted that he remembers working with Williams on “The Love Bug” TV in 1995. He wrote about watching Linc when he was growing up and thought he was the embodiment of cool.

During his 50-year career spanning film, television, and theater, Williams played a wide range of characters, Prince’s father in 1984’s “Purple Rain;” Marcellus Clay in the 2000 film “Ali: An American Hero;” in “The General’s Daughter”(1999) he is Colonel Fowler.

Williams portrayed a cop or investigator in numerous films and TV programs and seemed equally capable of successfully pulling off horror with intrigue.

He was born in New York on Aug. 21, 1939; his parents and paternal grandparents were talented; his grandfather was a composer and pianist, his dad was a musician, and his mom, Eve Taylor, was a singer and actress.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

TMZ: CLARENCE WILLIAMS III DEAD AT 81 ‘Mod Squad,’ ‘Half Baked’
The Washington Post: Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’s’ Linc, dies at 81; Lindsey Bahn

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Ron Reiring’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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