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Clarence Gilyard: From 'Matlock' and 'Walker, Texas Ranger' Star to College Professor

Screengrab via YouTube

American actor Clarence Gilyard Jr.'s known in part for two roles in classic TV shows: Conrad McMasters, Ben Matlock's (played by Andy Griffith) P.I. buddy on NBC and ABC's Matlock and James "Jimmy" Trivette, Cordell Walker's (Chuck Norris) crime-fighting partner on CBS' Walker, Texas Ranger.

Nowadays, he's a college professor, teaching theater at UNLV (the University of Nevada, Las Vegas). His entry into academia followed a 2003 return to campus life, during which he earned an MFA in Theatre Performance at Southern Methodist University. His students are learning from one of the best to appear in both popular television series and blockbuster film franchises.

Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr (born December 24, 1955 in Moses Lake, Washington) was raised near San Bernadino, California. The Eisenhower High School graduate spent a year as a US Air Force Academy cadet. He then attended Sterling College, where he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He later completed his undergrad studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles.

He became a character actor by the late '70s, appearing on such popular series as Diff'rent Strokes, Simon & Simon and 227.

Early career breaks came as Officer Benjamin Webster in the final season of NBC series CHiPs and as Jim Carrey's co-star in the sitcom The Duck Factory.

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Hollywood came calling in the '80s, landing Gilyard appearances in Die Hard (as Theo), Top Gun (as LTJG Marcus "Sundown" Williams) and The Karate Kid Part II.

A devout Catholic, Gilyard has also appeared in numerous Christian films, including roles as Pastor Bruce Barnes in Left Behind: The Movie and Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.

Per IMDB, the future associate professor also joined co-stars Norris and Sheree J. Wilson in such Walker, Texas Ranger TV films as Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire.

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Clarence Gilyard: From 'Matlock' and 'Walker, Texas Ranger' Star to College Professor