Clarence Williams III Biography

(Known for His Role as ‘Linc Hayes’ in the TV Series ‘The Mod Squad’)

Birthday: August 21, 1939 (Leo)

Born In: New York, New York, United States

Clarence Williams III was a noted African-American actor, who delighted his audience with his memorable performances in numerous stage shows, television productions and films for more than fifty years. Born into a family of musicians, he became interested in acting while in his teens, debuting in films at the age of eighteen. But shortly, he was called for his military service and on his return, he began to appear on stage. He made his Broadway debut at the age of 21 and got his breakthrough role at the age of 25. However, he had to wait for four more years for the role that made him a household name—that of Linc Hayes in the television series, ‘The Mod Squad’. When the show ended, he returned to the stage, unwilling to act in typical roles that were available to the African-American actors. At around the age of 40, Clarence Williams III once again returned to the screen, thereafter continuing to mesmerize his audiences with varied types of roles.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 81


father: Clay Williams

Born Country: United States

Actors American Men

Died on: June 4, 2021

place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States

Cause of Death: Colon Cancer

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

awards: 2000; 1998 · The General's Daughter; Hoodlum - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1965 · Slow Dance On The Killing Ground - Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play
1998 · Millennium - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

2007 · Mystery Woman - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie; Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2004 - TV Land Most Memorable Mane Award

Childhood & Early Life
Clarence William III was born on August 21, 1939 in New York City. Little is known about his family background except that his father, Clarence “Clay” William Junior, was a professional musician, who was on tour most of the time. Nothing is known about his mother.
Clarence was raised by his paternal grandparents, composer-pianist Clarence Williams and his singer-actress wife, Eva Taylor. Although brought up in musical environment, he became interested in acting when he accidentally walked into a theater while visiting Harlem YMCA as a teenager.
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In 1957, Clarence Williams III began his film career with a small part in ‘Dark of the Moon’. But very soon, he was called for his military service; serving for two years as a paratrooper in 506th Infantry. On being released, he returned to the stage, participating in various productions.
In 1960, he debuted on Broadway with ‘The Long Dream’, appearing in it in the role of Chris. Thereafter, he continued to perform in various productions like ‘Walk in Darkness’ (1963) and ‘Sarah and the Sax’ (1964), meanwhile also appearing in the film ‘The Cool World’ (1963).
In late 1964, he got his breakthrough role, when he was cast as Randal in William Hanley's ‘Slow Dance on the Killing Ground’. It opened on November 30, 1964 at Plymouth Theatre and closed on February 13, 1965 after 88 performances. It not only earned him great reviews, but also Tony Award nomination.
In 1965, he debuted on television with one episode of the NBC series ‘Lamp Unto My Feet’. Thereafter, he continued working both on screen and stage, appearing in plays like ‘The Great Indoors’ (1966), ‘King John’(1967), ‘The Party on Greenwich Avenue (1967),’ and ‘Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?’ (1967).
In 1968, he got his second breakthrough when he was cast as Linc Hayes, on the highly popular television cop series, ‘The Mod Squad’, remaining with it till its end in 1973. Meanwhile in 1970, he appeared as a narrator in ‘King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis’(Documentary).
As ‘The Mod Squad’ ended in 1973, he returned to the stage, unwilling to be typecast in typical black roles. He was part of well-known plays like ‘Night and Day’ (1979-1980) and ‘Suspenders’ (1979). Also in 1979, he reprised the role of Linc Hayes in television film, ‘The Return of Mod Squad’.
In 1980s, he returned to the screen, appearing in films like ‘Purple Rain’ (1984), ’52 Pick-up’ (1986), 'Tough Guys Don't Dance' (1987) , 'Perfect Victims' (1988) and 'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka' (1989). Concurrently, he also began appearing on television, doing numerous episodic works during this period.
From 1991, he became more regular on big screen, starring in ‘Tales from Hood’ in 1995, ‘Hoodlums’ in 1997, ‘The Legend of 1900’ and ‘Half Baked’ in 1998. Other important works of this decade include 'My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys' (1991), ‘Deep Cover’ (1992), ‘Deadfall’ (1993), ‘Sugar Hill’ (also known as Harlem ) (1994) etc.
Also in 1990s, he appeared in several television series, most important of them being the recurring role of FBI agent Roger Hardy in ‘Twin Peaks’. In addition, he also did numerous other episodic works in popular television series like ‘Star Trek’, 'Jake and the Fatman', 'Tales from the Crypt’ etc.

Continuing to work both in films and television series, he played the role Cassius Clay, Sr. in the television film, ‘Ali: An American Hero’ and that of Merlin in ‘Reindeer Games’ in 2000. Appearing as Philby in ten ‘Mystery Woman’ (2005- 2007) made-for-television films was another hallmark of the decade.
In 2009, he starred as Mac in ‘The Way of War’, also appearing in films like ‘The Extreme Team’ (2003), ‘Constellation’ (2005), ‘The Blue Hour’ (2007), ‘American Gangster’ (2007), ‘A Day in the Life’ (2009). His last film, ‘Snowbird’, in which he starred as Bob, was released in 2016.
Major Works
Clarence Williams III is best known for his role in the award winning ABC crime drama series, ‘The Mod Squad’, appearing in it in the role of a delinquent-cum-undercover detective, Lincoln "Linc" Hayes.
Family & Personal Life

In November 1967, Clarence Williams III married actress Gloria Forest, remaining together until their divorce in 1984. The couple did not have any children and remained friends till her death in 2001.

From 1990 to 1999, he was in a relationship with actress Tyne Daly.

Clarence Williams III died of colon cancer on 4 June 2021, in Los Angeles, at the age of 81.

See the events in life of Clarence Williams III in Chronological Order

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