R.I.P.: Prolific Actor Clarence Williams III, Star Of 'Purple Rain,' 'The Mod Squad,' 'Half Baked,' Dies At 81

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

Williams died Friday at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with colon cancer.

A native of New York, Williams career spanned over five decades in theater, television & film. He was born into a creative family in 1939 & raised by his musical grandparents. His grandfather was a jazz composer & pianist, his father a musician & his mother, Eva Taylor, a singer & actress. He got his acting start on Broadway after a stint as a paratrooper & received a Tony nomination for his role in William Hanley’s “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground” in 1964.

His breakout role would come with “The Mod Squad,” which he led with Peggy Lipton & Michael Cole. Bill Cosby had seen Williams perform & told Aaron Spelling he should consider him for the role of Linc. 

He appeared on Broadway opposite Maggie Smith in Tom Stoppard’s “Night and Day” in 1979 before getting cast as the troubled father in “Purple Rain,” which came out in 1984.

Williams could command a variety of genres, including comedy. He played a drug lord opposite Dave Chappelle in “Half Baked” & stole scenes in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation parody film “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” He also had a recurring role as the FBI agent in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.”

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Source: AP

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