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Who Was American Actor Clarence Williams III? Biography, Family, Awards, and Death

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Clarence Williams III was born on August 21, 1939, in Harlem, New York, to professional musician Clarence “Clay” Williams Jr. Irene Joy Gibbons, also known as Eva Taylor, was a singer and actress from St. Louis, Missouri. There is little information available about his biological mother. Sondra Pugh was his sister, and Jamey Phillips was his daughter. He was introduced to theater during his adolescence by chance in 1957, when he walked into a rehearsal for Dark of the Moon at the Harlem YMCA and the director of the show gave him a few lines to say. However, he was drafted into the United States Army and became a paratrooper shortly afterwards. In 1960, he was honorably discharged.

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During the 1960s, Williams rekindled his interest in theater, making his Broadway debut in The Long Dream (1960), Walk-in Darkness (1963), and King John (1964).

During this period, he also appeared in films, including The Cool World, in which he played “Blood.” Williams received a Tony nomination for “Best Featured Actor” in a Play in 1965, at the 19th Annual Tony Awards broadcast from the Astor Hotel in New York City, for his work in the drama Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.

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In addition, he was an artist-in-residence at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1966, and Clarence Williams married Gloria Foster, an actress, the following year, in November 1967.

Williams played Linc Hayes in the police television counterculture series The Mod Squad from 1968 to 1973. In 1979, he appeared on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day. Williams demonstrated exceptional acting skills in several films during the 1980s and 1990s, including portraying Prince’s father in the breakout film musical Purple Rain in 1984 and playing a police officer in the television show Deep Cover in 1992.

Williams was nominated for a TV Land Award in 2004 for “Most Memorable Mane” in The Mod Squad. In 2005, he accepted a role as a voice actor on the Disney animated series American Dragon Jake Long, where he remained until 2007.

In 2013, Williams appeared in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. He played the character of Maynard.

Clarence Williams III died on June 4, 2021, in Los Angeles, California, of colon cancer. He was 81.

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