Clarence Williams III was an American actor. He played the character of Linc Hayes in the police television series The Mod Squad from 1968 to 1973.
He also appeared in films such as Purple Rain, 52 Pick-Up, Tales from the Hood, Half Baked, and Reindeer Games.
Williams died of colon cancer Friday in Los Angeles, his representative Alan Mindell told The Hollywood Reporter.
Williams was an exceptionally intense actor who began his career on stage, winning the 1965 Tony Best Play for his performance in the powerful three-person play “Slow Dance on the Killing Fields” Actor nominations. Decades later, he returned to Broadway to pair up with Maggie Smith in the original 1979 production of Tom Stoppard’s Day and Night.
On the big screen, the Harlem native played Prince’s troubled father in “Purple Rain” (1984) and Wesley Snipes in “Sugar Hill” (1993) And Michael Wright’s drug-addicted father. In Giuseppe Tornatore’s Legend of 1900 (1998), Williams used his family’s musical roots to perform as jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton.
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Known for his striking Afro and split-tooth smile, Williams also frequently collaborated with renowned director John Frankenheimer, first on Elmore Leonard’s 52 Pick-Up (1986) and then on The General’s Daughter ( 1999), Reindeer Games (2000) and two TV movies, Attica in 1994 and George Wallace in 1997.
Williams also showed a talent for comedy, playing the former leader of the People’s Revolutionary Army in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ black exploitation spoof, I’m Gonna Get You Suka Git You Sucka (1988) and mad drug lord Samson Simpson played… , with Dave Chappell in the classic Half Baked (1998).
And in The Hood Story (1995), Williams has some odd stories to tell as the sinister undertaker Mr. Sims.
Williams thanked Bill Cosby, who saw the slow dance in the Killing Fields, and recommended the actor to producer Aaron Spelling, who was in charge of casting for Defense Squad. Spelling then landed Williams a small role as a reluctant runaway driver in an anthology series he and Danny Thomas produced.
The Williams scene is spelled right.
“They walked in, they robbed the store, gunshots went off, and they crashed into the car,” the producer recalled in a 1999 interview with the US Television Archive. “Then [Williams] drove away and hit a power line directly. On the pole. I thought everyone was killed.
“We all ran. I said, ‘Clarence, Clarence, what happened? “I’ve never driven a car,” he said. “I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Because I want the job.” “I hired him for the defence force that night.
The Mod Squad, created by Bud Ruskin, who runs the undercover drug squad for the LAPD, aired on ABC for five seasons. Williams, Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes and Michael Cole as Pete Cochran portray young men who break the law — Link was arrested during the Watts riots — Before becoming a police officer under the command of Captain Adam Greer (Tiger Andrews).
Taking advantage of the countercultural vibe of the era, The Mod Squad incorporates current issues like racism, anti-war protests, and drug addiction into the storyline as Linc, Julie, and Pete infiltrate high schools, acting classes, prisons, hippie newspapers, gangs, movies in the set. Wait for the bad guy.
“They were absolutely the hottest, coolest undercover cops on TV at the time,” says Groovy History.
Williams was born on August 21, 1939, to professional musician Clay Williams. He was raised by his grandparents: composer and pianist Clarence Williams, a frequent collaborator with blues legend Bessie Smith, whose songs will be featured in “Ain” years later ‘t Misbehavin’”; and singer-actress Eva Taylor.
Williams was introduced to acting as a teenager when he stumbled across a rehearsal for Dark of the Moon at the Harlem YMCA (starring Cicely Tyson), in which the director gave He said a few lines.
After starring in unknown roles in Lewis Milestone’s Pork Chop Hill (1959) and Broadway’s Long Dream (1960), Williams enlisted and served as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.
At home, he performed on Broadway in The Great Indoors and was an artist-in-residence at Brandeis University before his big break with The Mod Squad.
He told the Los Angeles Times in 1995 that Link was “a very different character for an African-American, and a great protagonist, and a lot of young people, black and white, especially African-American youth, may be related to it.”