Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’s’ Linc, dies at 81

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Clarence Williams III, who performed the cool undercover cop Linc Hayes on the counterculture sequence “The Mod Squad” and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain,” has died. He was 81.

Williams died Friday at his dwelling in Los Angeles after a battle with colon most cancers, his supervisor Allan Mindel stated Sunday. Tributes got here rapidly on social media from each those that labored with Williams and those that admired him for his trailblazing roles and impactful performances.

“Tales from the Hood” director Rusty Cundieff tweeted that his unhappiness over Williams’ passing, “can’t be overstated. His artistry and sheer coolness was extraordinary. I’ll endlessly be in his debt for his good efficiency in Tales From the Hood. Liked working with him! Blessed travels good sir!”

Lenny Kravitz wrote on Twitter, “After I was a child rising up in NYC Clarence Williams III was a face on TV that I recognized with and that impressed me. From the Mod Squad, to Purple Rain and Sugar Hill, he at all times carried out with dynamic vitality. Relaxation in energy, king.”

Director Peyton Reed tweeted that he labored with Williams on the TV film “The Love Bug” in 1995.

“I had grown up watching him as Linc in ‘The Mod Squad’ and thought he was the epitome of cool. Seems he was. Relaxation In Peace, Clarence,” Reed wrote.

A local of New York, Williams profession spanned over 5 a long time in theater, tv and movie. He was born right into a artistic household in 1939 and raised by his musical grandparents. His grandfather was a jazz composer and pianist, his father a musician and his mom, Eva Taylor, a singer and actress. He bought his performing begin on Broadway after a stint as a paratrooper and acquired a Tony nomination for his function in William Hanley’s “Gradual Dance on the Killing Floor” in 1964.

His breakout function would include “The Mod Squad,” which he led with Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole. Invoice Cosby had seen Williams carry out and instructed Aaron Spelling he ought to take into account him for the function of Linc. The present ran from on ABC from 1968 by way of 1973. A trailblazing present for trying to painting the hippie era of the time, “The Mod Squad” was a star-maker for all three. However roles weren’t fast to comply with for Williams.

He appeared on Broadway reverse Maggie Smith in Tom Stoppard’s “Night time and Day” in 1979 earlier than getting forged because the troubled father in “Purple Rain,” which got here out in 1984.

Director John Frankenheimer would turn into a frequent collaborator. They first teamed up for his adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s “52 Decide-Up” at a time when Williams was not having a lot luck in Hollywood and crashing on Cosby’s sofa to maintain a roof over his head.

“He requested me to learn for the a part of one of many blackmailers, however after solely 4 strains, he instructed me to cease,” Williams recalled in a 1999 interview. “I believed it was throughout, however he stated, ‘Have your agent name me. Will probably be a 10-week shoot. Thanks for coming in.’ That was it.”

Williams additionally appeared in Frankenheimer’s “In opposition to the Wall,” “Reindeer Video games” and a few episodes of “Tales from the Crypt.”

Williams might command quite a lot of genres, together with comedy. He performed a drug lord reverse Dave Chappelle in “Half Baked” and stole scenes in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation parody movie “I am Gonna Git You Sucka.” He additionally had a recurring function because the FBI agent in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” who tells Agent Cooper he’s been suspended.

Different movie roles included “Tales from the Hood,” “Deep Cowl,” “Sugar Hill, “The Basic’s Daughter,” Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” and an uncredited function in “American Gangster.” And he had many, many tv appearances on every thing from “Miami Vice” and “Hill Road Blues” to “All people Hates Chris” and “Justified.”

He was married to the actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984.

Williams by no means fretted over his longtime affiliation with “The Mod Squad,” although.

“All most individuals learn about me is the 2 hours they’ve invested in a movie show or the time spent in entrance of their TV,” he stated in an interview in 1999. “There’s a lot leisure on the market proper now, it’s tough to interrupt by way of and turn into a part of the nationwide consciousness. It’s good to be acknowledged, and I’ve no downside with it in any respect.”

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