Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’ and ‘Purple Rain’ Actor, Dead at 81
By Myeisha Essex
Photo by CBS via Getty Images
Clarence Williams III -- best known for roles in The Mod Squad, Purple Rain and Sugar Hill -- has died. He was 81.
The actor's management confirmed his death to multiple outlets on Sunday, sharing he died on Friday in Los Angeles due to colon cancer.
The Harlem native began his career in theater and went on to earn a Tony nomination in 1965 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his work in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground. From 1968 to 1973, he starred as undercover cop Lincoln Hayes on the ABC drama The Mod Squad.
Williams' Mod Squad co-star Michael Cole paid tribute to the late actor in a statement to ET on Monday, sharing, "The five years of The Mod Squad bonded us for a lifetime. We broke a lot of ice together. I never had a more honest or trusted friend or knew a more gifted actor. I will miss him."
On the big screen, Williams played Prince’s troubled father in 1984's Purple Rain, Wesley Snipes and Michael Wright’s dad in 1993's Sugar Hill and Maynard in 2013's Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
Williams’ other film credits include Half-Baked, The General’s Daughter, Deep Cover,The Brave, and Life.
Williams was married to actress Gloria Foster, who portrayed Oracle in the first two Matrix movies, from 1967 to 1984.
He is survived by his sister Sondra Pugh, daughter Jamey Phillips, niece Suyin Shaw, grandnephews Elliot Shaw and Ese Shaw, and grandniece Azaria Verdin.