Clarence Williams III: The Mod Squad and Purple Rain Star, Dies at the Age of 81

Clarence Williams III, Linc Hayes in ABC’s The Mod Squad, and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain,” died Friday at the age of 81 due to colon cancer, his management confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter.

The American actor died on Friday, June 4, at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with colon cancer, his manager Allan Mindel said Sunday.

He began his career in a production of “Dark of the Moon,” and appeared on Broadway in “The Great Outdoors.”

His performance in “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground” won him a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination, the statement said.

A native of New York, Williams’ career spanned over five decades in theater, television, and film.

He was born into a creative family in 1939 and raised by his musical grandparents. His grandfather was a jazz composer and pianist, his father a musician, and his mother, Eva Taylor, a singer, and actress.

He got his acting start on Broadway after a stint as a paratrooper and received a Tony nomination for his role in William Hanley’s “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground” in 1964.

Along with his theatre performances, Williams also starred in several shows and movies, including: “52 Pick-Up,” “Against the Wall,” “Reindeer Games,” “Purple Rain,” “The General’s Daughter,” “American Gangster,” “Half Baked” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Williams is survived by his sister Sondra Pugh, daughter Jamey Phillips, niece Suyin Shaw, grandnephews Elliot Shaw and Ese Shaw and grandniece Azaria Verdin, the statement said.

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