Clarence Gilyard was a multifaceted talent whose legacy left an indelible mark on both the world of entertainment and academia. Widely recognized for his iconic television roles as Conrad McMasters in “Matlock” and Texas Ranger Jimmy Trivette in “Walker, Texas Ranger,” Gilyard’s on-screen charisma captivated audiences for years.

Clarence also made memorable appearances in blockbuster films like “Top Gun” and “Die Hard,” showcasing his versatility as an actor.

Beyond the glitz and glamour, Gilyard was serving as an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, until his death on November 28, 2022. Continue reading to know more about the icon Clarence’s career, age, wife, net worth, and cause of death.

Clarence Gilyard: Parents, Wiki, Early Life

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. came into the world on December 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, USA. Born into a military family, he was the son of Barbara and Clarence Alfred Gilyard Sr., a U.S. Air Force officer.

Gilyard was the second of six children in his family. Although his family originally hailed from New Orleans, Louisiana, he spent his formative years on various U.S. Air Force bases in locations like Hawaii, Texas, and Florida.

Clarence Gilyard died at the age of 66.
Clarence Gilyard died at the age of 66. Source: Instagram

Walker Star was primarily raised as a Lutheran. However, his spiritual journey led him to embrace Catholicism in the 1990s. Gilyard’s early life and upbringing would play a significant role in shaping the diverse experiences and talents he brought to his career in entertainment and academia.


Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr.’s journey through his young adulthood was marked by a series of transformative experiences. He spent his formative years in Rialto, California, attending Eisenhower High School where he excelled academically and graduated in 1974.

After a brief stint as an Air Force Academy cadet, he decided to pursue higher education at Sterling College. During his time at college, he not only played football but also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Despite receiving a tennis scholarship, Gilyard eventually left college before completing his studies.

Living with his parents during this period, Gilyard grappled with various personal challenges, including issues related to women, alcohol, and at times, drugs. In response, his parents encouraged him to move out, leading him to relocate to Long Beach, California, alongside a friend. There, he attended California State University, Long Beach, focusing on acting as his major while working as a waiter to support himself.

Eventually, he completed his bachelor’s degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Gilyard’s educational journey didn’t end there; in 2003, he made a return to school, earning a Master of Fine Arts in theatre performance at Southern Methodist University.

Cause of Death

Tragically, after a prolonged battle with illness, Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. passed away in the comfort of his Las Vegas, Nevada, home on November 28, 2022, at the age of 66. His departure marked the end of a rich and multifaceted life. Moreover, he touched the hearts of many through his contributions to entertainment, academia, and more.

Gilyard’s final resting place can be found at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles, California. There he is remembered and honored, leaving behind a legacy that will endure in the hearts of those who knew and admired him.

Was He Married? Who Was His Wife?

Clarence Gilyard experienced the joys and challenges of married life twice, with a total of six children to enrich his journey. His first marriage, which began in 1989 with Catherine Dutko. Though, it regrettably ended in divorce.

However, the second chapter of his love story unfolded when he tied the knot with Elena Castillo in 2001. They were together till his death in 2022.

Gilyard’s professional life was marked by his remarkable acting career and academic achievements. However, he was known for keeping his personal life private, shying away from the spotlight in that aspect.

This reflected his desire to shield his family from the public eye. He cherishes the precious moments with his loved ones away from the limelight.

Career: TV Shows

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr.’s journey into the world of acting was marked by a series of intriguing twists and notable roles:

Gilyard’s foray into acting began in 1979 when he relocated to Los Angeles. He made his mark in the play “Bleacher Bums,” earning recognition as “the first black actor to play a cheerleader.” Subsequently, he transitioned into the realm of television, becoming a sought-after character actor.

Clarence Gilyard on the show "Walker, Texas Ranger."
Clarence Gilyard on the show “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Source: Instagram

As a versatile character actor, Gilyard made guest appearances on various TV shows, including “Diff’rent Strokes,” “The Facts of Life,” “227,” “Simon & Simon,” and “Riptide.” In the 1982–1983 season, he joined the cast of the NBC TV series “CHiPs” as Officer Benjamin Webster, alongside Erik Estrada.

Additionally, he co-starred with Jim Carrey in the 1984 NBC sitcom “The Duck Factory” and even appeared in a McDonald’s commercial in 1987.


Gilyard’s big-screen debut came in 1986 when he portrayed an F-14 Tomcat radar intercept officer, LT. (JG) Marcus “Sundown” Williams, in the iconic movie “Top Gun.” He continued to take on diverse roles, such as a military character in “The Karate Kid Part II” (1986) and the criminal computer expert Theo in the action-packed “Die Hard” (1988).

Gilyard also played the role of Reverend Bruce Barnes in “Left Behind: The Movie” and its sequel, “Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.”

One of his most well-known television roles was as Ben Matlock’s private investigator, Conrad McMasters, on “Matlock,” opposite Andy Griffith, from 1989 to 1993. He replaced Kene Holliday in this role and appeared in nearly every episode of the show starting from the third season.

In 1993, he embarked on another enduring co-starring role alongside Chuck Norris in “Walker, Texas Ranger,” portraying James “Jimmy” Trivette, a fellow Texas Ranger and best friend of Walker. This role further solidified his place in the hearts of television audiences.

More Into His Acting Career

After a hiatus, during which he pursued a teaching career, Gilyard returned to the screen in independent projects, with notable appearances in the religious film “A Matter of Faith” (2014) and a stage performance of “Driving Miss Daisy” in 2016.

In the realm of video games, Gilyard’s talents were in the 2018 edition of the football video game Madden NFL, where he portrayed high school coach Devin Wade in the “Longshot” section.

Two years later, he made a memorable return, reprising his role as the criminal gang member Theo from “Die Hard” in a commercial alongside Bruce Willis for Advance Auto Parts’ DieHard brand of car batteries.

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr.’s diverse career in acting left an indelible mark on both the small and big screens, showcasing his versatility and enduring talent in the entertainment industry.

Career As a Professor

In 2006, Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. made a significant transition in his career. He took a hiatus from acting and ventured into the realm of academia.

Likewise, Gilyard became an associate professor in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), specifically in the Department of Theatre.

Gilyard’s dedication to teaching extended over the years, leaving a lasting impact on his students and the university community. His influence went beyond the classroom, and he was the school’s film chair as “a beacon of light and strength for everyone around at UNLV.”

Net Worth

Clarence Gilyard’s net worth at the time of his passing in 2022 was $5 million. This net worth was the result of his multifaceted career as an actor, college professor, author, and producer.

Gilyard gained recognition for his roles in television series like “Matlock” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” among other projects. Also, read to know the death causes of other celebrities like Bobby Buntrock and Lexie Bigham.

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