NBC Today Show

After a battle with colon cancer, the iconic actor passed away in his Los Angeles home on June 4th, according to his manager.


Williams III was best known for playing the hippie detective Linc Hayes in the groundbreaking police crime drama series The Mod Squad, which ran for five seasons in the late 60s to early 70s. He also played Prince's abusive father in the 1984 musical drama film Purple Rain. His other credits include roles in Miami Vice, Twin Peaks, and Star Trek. More recently, he made an appearance in 2013 Lee Daniels' The Butler.

A Harlem native, Williams III was the grandson of jazz pianist Clarence Williams and singer-actress Eva Taylor, who primarily raised him. He was married to actress Gloria Foster for 17 years, who played Oracle in The Matrix. Before his breakthrough roles in film, his acting career began on Broadway, where he earned a Tony nomination for his role as William Hanley in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground in 1965.

Celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, Leslie Jones, and Vernon Reid have been paying their tributes.

He leaves behind a daughter, Jamey Phillips, who remains out of the public eye.

Rest in Peace, Clarence.

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