Actor Clarence Williams III, best known for playing Linc Hayes in The Mod Squad has succumbed to colon cancer at the age of 81. Born on New York City, NY, August 21, 1939, he died in Los Angeles, CA, June 4, 2021 of the same disease that took Chadwick Boseman.
Williams was named for and raised by his grandfather Clarence Williams, the noted jazz pianist and composer. His grandmother was blues singer and vaudeville actress Eva Taylor, the Dixie Nightingale.
After wearing his country’s uniform and serving honorably in the famed 101st Airbourne Division “the Screaming Eagles,” he turned to a theatrical career. His Broadway debut was in 1960 in The Long Dream. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1965 for Best Actor in a Featured Role for his performance as Randall in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground; he lost to Jack Albertson (Ed Brown in Chico and the Man. Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) in The Subject Was Roses.
TV and Movies
Williams came to widespread fame when he starred in The Mod Squad from 1968 to 1973. From there he went on to other TV roles, movies, and returned occasionally to the stage.
Roles of note, played by Clarence Williams III:
- Prince’s father in Purple Rain
- Jelly Roll Morton in The Legend of 1900 (1998)
- Merlin in Reindeer Games (2000)
- Philby in the Hallmark Channel’s series of Mystery Woman movies
- Mr. Simms in 1995’s Tales from the Hood
Jem’Hadar and Dragons
Williams appeared in the horror movie American Nightmares with Nichelle Nichols. He had a recurring role in Disney’s Jake Long, American Dragon as Councilor Andam. He played Dr. Bauer in the horror-fantasy show Miracles
It was director LeVar Burton who suggested casting Williams as Omet’iklan in the DS9 episode “To the Death.”
DS9 producer Ronald D. Moore said “I liked Clarence Williams III, I always have, and I thought he really personified the Jem’Hadar for the first time in a way that the audience could grab onto. The Jem’Hadar in a lot of the episodes tend to kind of bland out. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between them, and [Williams] brought something to that performance that made him at least stand alone among that race.” (Captains’ Logs Supplemental – The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p.120)
The disease that took Clarence Williams III, colon cancer, was the same one that slew Chadwick Boseman. By coincidence, his Mod Squad co-star Peggy Lipton also died of colon cancer in 2019. As with any cancer, early diagnosis is imperative to save lives. If you or a loved one suffers symptoms of colon cancer, get a colonoscopy as quickly as possible.
Williams’ first wife, actress Gloria Foster (Oracle in The Matrix) predeceased him in 2001. He is survived by his second wife, Kelly, his sister Sondra Pugh, daughter Jamey Phillips, niece Suyin Shaw, grandnephews Elliot Shaw and Ese Shaw, and grandniece Azaria Verdin.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.