Top Gun and Die Hard legend Clarence Gilyard Jr dies after ‘long illness’

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    Hollywood star Clarence Gilyard Jr has died at the age of 66.

    The Die Hard and Top Gun actor had been suffering from a "long illness", it has been reported.

    The University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts, where the TV and movie star was a film and theatre professor, shared the news of his passing.

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    UNLV Dean Nancy J. Uscher of Gilyard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him.

    "He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments.

    “His generosity of spirit was boundless – he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances however possible.

    "We remember Clarence with joy and gratitude for all he contributed to the College of Fine Arts, the UNLV community, and, through his impressive personal achievements, to the world."

    UNLV film chair Heather Addison added: "Professor Gilyard was a beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV.

    "Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘blessed' but we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!"

    His cause of death currently remains unknown.

    Gilyard, whose career spanned 30 years, was best known for playing the computer hacker Theo in the hit movie Die Hard.

    He portrayed the role of naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun alongside Tom Cruise.

    In 2020, Gilyard reprised the role of Die Hard’s Theo in a super-sized commercial for Advanced Auto Parts celebrating its acquisition of the DieHard battery brand.

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    The advert featured Bruce Willis' legendary hero John McClane as well as cameos by De’voreaux White, who played limo driver Argyle and Gilyard.

    At the time, Gilyard told Nevada Public Radio the experience had been "surreal."

    He was married twice and had six children.

    His first marriage to Catherine Dutko ended in divorce and he married his second wife Elena in 2001.

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