Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. was born on 24 December 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, USA, and is an actor as well as a professor, but best known for his acting work. He played the right-hand man to Ben Matlock in the series “Matlock”, and also played the partner of Chuck Norris in “Walker, Texas Ranger”. He worked on films too, such as “Top Gun” and “Die Hard”.
The Net Worth of Clarence Gilyard
As of early-2020, Clarence Gilyard has a net worth estimated to be over $5 million, earned through a successful career in acting in the entertainment industry since 1980. Though he took a long break from acting, he returned to work on the independent scene in recent years.
Early Life and Education
Clarence grew up in a military family, with his father working in thea US Air Force, so his family moved around, and he grew up on Air Force bases in several locations in the US.
He was born as the second of six children, with one of his brothers also pursuing a career in the Air Force. He, on the other hand, attended Eisenhower High School, and though he showed potential in school, he was often in the midst of trouble. He had problems with women, alcohol, and occasionally drugs, which led his parents to force him to move out to be set apart from his bad influences. He spent a year in the Air Force Academy, but left to attend Sterling College, where he played American Football for the college team.
He then discovered his passion for acting while in Long Beach, California, then enrolling at California State University, Long Beach to major in acting.
Gilyard completed his acting degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills and while doing so looked for acting opportunities. To make ends meet, he took odd jobs and briefly worked as a waiter before taking a job at a clothing store. He was promoted to manager of the store, but left to work as an industrial chemical salesman, not fairing as well.
In 1979, he settled in Los Angeles and got his first acting project in the play “Bleacher Burns” becoming the first black actor to play the role of the cheerleader. He then moved to television, working as a guest in several television shows such as “Riptide”, “Diff’rent Strokes’, and “227”. In 1986, he secured one of his first prominent roles in the film “Top Gun” playing the F-14 Tomcat Rader Intercept Officer LTJG Marcus “Sundown” Williams. He then worked on “The Karate Kid Part II” before appearing in the Bruce Willis film “Die Hard” as the computer expert Theo.
He subsequently appeared in the films “Left Behind: The Movie” and “Left Behind II: Tribulation Force”.
In 1989, Clarence was cast as the private investigator Conrad McMasters in “Matlock”, alongside Andy Griffith, remaining in the role for four years, and appeared during the first three seasons of the show, but later left following the show’s move from NBC to ABC. He was then cast in another notable role in the show “Walker, Texas Ranger” starring Chuck Norris, portraying fellow Ranger James “Jimmy” Trivette, who is the best friend of Norris’ character.
The show became a big hit, during which he did a lot of stunts, working in the series for its entire run and became good friends with the cast. He later made a cameo appearance in “Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire”, before announcing his retirement from acting in 2005.
After a seven-year break from the craft, he returned in 2012, but mostly worked on independent projects such as the film “A Matter of Faith”. In 2016, he was in the film “Driving Miss Daisy” which was released at The Neil Simon Film Festival.
He also portrayed the high school coach in “Madden 2018”.
Clarence has been married twice, first to Catherine which ended in divorce. In 2001, he married Elena Castillo and they have been together since; he has five children across his two marriages. His religion is Catholic, and serves with the US Catholic Bishops as a part of their Communications Committee.
He is very close friends with Chuck Norris as the two shared a lot of things in common, including their favorite Westerns and characters. Their parents also served in the Air Force, but during different periods. He considers the late Andy Griffith as his acting mentor, who helped him a lot particularly during their time together in “Matlock”.