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

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for FIJI

Clarence Williams III, Linc Hayes in ABC’s The Mod Squad, died Friday at the age of 81 due to colon cancer, his management confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Before teaming up with Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton for the Emmy-winning undercover crime drama from 1968 to 1973, Williams made his name as a Broadway performer, appearing in The Long Dream and The Great Indoors, among other shows, before earning a Tony nomination in 1965 for his turn in William Hanley’s Slow Dance on the Killing Ground. In 1979, Williams returned to the stage to star in the original production of Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day with Maggie Smith.

Following his breakout television role on The Mod Squad, Williams appeared in a myriad of films and TV shows, co-starring as Prince’s father in 1984’s Purple Rain, Kalinga in 1988’s I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, FBI agent Roger Hardy in the second season of Twin Peaks, Samson Simpson in 1998’s Half Baked, Colonel George Fowler in 1999’s The General’s Daughter, and Maynard in 2013’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, not to mention a variety of guest appearances including roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Everybody Hates Chris, Empire, and Justified.

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

Clarence Williams III, Star of The Mod Squad, Dies at 81