Clarence Williams, ‘Mod Squad’ And ‘Purple Rain’ Actor, Dies Aged 81

by : Cameron Frew on : 07 Jun 2021 07:24
Clarence Williams, 'Mod Squad' And 'Purple Rain' Actor, Dies Aged 81PA Images/ABC

Clarence Williams III, star of The Mod Squad and Purple Rain, has died aged 81. 

The actor, who played Detective Linc Hayes in the ABC show and Prince’s father in the hit 1984 movie, passed away in Los Angeles on June 4.


His death was confirmed by Williams’ management team, who said he died from colon cancer, Variety reports.

Williams was born in New York City on August 21, 1939. His first acting job came on-stage in Dark of the Moon in 1957, later going on to a plethora of roles, whether it was FBI Agent Roger Hardy in Twin Peaks or his collaborations with director John Frankenheimer, including 52 Pick-Up, Against the Wall, George Wallace and Reindeer Games.

He also starred in 1998’s Half-Baked and Rusty Cundieff’s cult horror Tales from the Hood.


Cundieff paid tribute to Williams on Twitter, writing: ‘My sadness at the passing of Clarence Williams III cannot be overstated. His artistry and sheer coolness was extraordinary. I will forever be in his debt for his brilliant performance in Tales from the Hood. Loved working with him! Blessed travels good sir!’

Among many other messages, Heather Wixson of Daily Dead News wrote: ‘R.I.P. Clarence Williams III – you were an amazing performer whose talents will never be replicated.’

User @LovelyZena also wrote: ‘RIP to the talented Clarence Williams III. I’ll always hold his performance in Tales from the Hood close to my heart. It’s such an underrated iconic classic and ‘This ain’t no funeral home!’ will continue to live in my head rent free.’


Featured Image Credit: PA Images/ABC

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, Now


  1. Variety

    Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’ and ‘Purple Rain’ Star, Dies at 81