Clarence Gilyard is an American actor, author, and college professor. He is known for playing Conrad McMasters in the drama series ‘Matlock,’ and Pastor Bruce Barnes in the thriller flick ‘Left behind’ and its follow-up ‘Left Behind II: Tribulation Force’. He is also sometimes credited as Clarence Gilyard Jr. He initially attended US Air Force Academy to fulfill the dream of his father, who himself served in the air force. However, destiny had some others plans for Gilyard and he relocated to Los Angeles from Washington, eventually pursuing an acting career. He first performed in children's theater and later went on to act in films and television. Today, he is regarded as one of the most remarkable actors of color in Hollywood. Gilyard is a man who is fully committed to his profession. He is well-educated and has literary interests as well. He has authored several books and teaches theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In 1979, Clarence Gilyard went to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. He became the first black actor to play the role of a cheerleader in the play ‘Bleacher Bums’. He then had guest roles in a series of television programs, including ‘The Facts of Life’, ‘Diff'rent Strokes’, ‘227’ and ‘Riptide’. In 1982, the actor was cast as Officer Benjamin Webster in the final season of NBC’s ‘CHiPs.’ He next starred alongside Jim Carrey in NBC’s sitcom ‘The Duck Factory’ in 1984.
In 1986, he played Wally Stokes in the TV series ‘Simon & Simon’. That year, Gilyard also made his film debut as LTJG Marcus Williams in ‘Top Gun.’ Soon after, he got featured in the comic panel ‘Off the Mark’. The actor played the role of Theo, a computer expert and thief, in the action flick ‘Die Hard’. He landed a minor role in the television film ‘L.A. Takedown’ in 1989.
From 1989 to 1993, Gilyard played Conrad McMasters in the TV series ‘Matlock’. In 1993, he joined the cast of the TV series ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ as James "Jimmy" Trivette, a role he played till 2001. During this time, the actor also appeared in ‘Left Behind: The Movie’. He then went on to appear in the film’s sequel ‘Left Behind II: Tribulation Force’ that was released in 2002. Three years later, Gilyard featured in the TV film ‘Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire’.
In August 2005, he announced his retirement from acting. However, he started reappearing in movies in 2012, mostly taking up independent projects. In fall of 2014, he was seen as Professor Portland in the religious flick ‘A Matter of Faith’. Two years later, he got featured as Hoak Colburn in the comedy drama movie ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ opposite Sheree J. Wilson. Currently, Gilyard also teaches drama at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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Family & Personal Life
Clarence Alfred Gilyard, Jr. was born on December 24, 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington, USA, to a US Air Force officer named Clarence Gilyard Sr. He was raised alongside five siblings. One of his brothers also attended the Air Force Academy. Another brother, named Milton, lives in an assisted-living residence as he suffers from a developmental disability.
Gilyard initially studied at Eisenhower High School. Following his graduation in 1974, he spent a year in the Air Force Academy before leaving for higher studies at Sterling College. He then majored in acting from California State University, Long Beach. Later on, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Southern Methodist University. Currently, Gilyard serves as a consultant of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Communications Committee.
Coming to the actor’s love life, he initially married a woman named Catherine Dutko and had two children. After divorcing her, Gilyard married Elena in 2001. The couple has three kids together.