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Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod (*81*)’ star, dies at 81

Williams acquired his breakout function on “The Mod Squad,” which he led with Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole throughout its run on ABC from 1968 by 1973.

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

Williams died Friday at his house in Los Angeles after a battle with colon most cancers, his supervisor Allan Mindel stated Sunday.

A local of New York, Williams career spanned over 5 a long time in theater, tv and movie. He was born right into a artistic household in 1939 and raised by his musical grandparents. His grandfather was a jazz composer and pianist, his father a musician and his mom, Eva Taylor, a singer and actress. He acquired his appearing begin on Broadway after a stint as a paratrooper and acquired a Tony nomination for his function in William Hanley’s “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground” in 1964.

His breakout function would include “The Mod Squad,” which he led with Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole. Bill Cosby had seen Williams carry out and informed Aaron Spelling he ought to think about him for the function of Linc. The present ran from on ABC from 1968 by 1973. A trailblazing present for trying to painting the hippie technology of the time, “The Mod Squad” was a star-maker for all three. But roles weren’t fast to comply with for Williams.

He appeared on Broadway reverse Maggie Smith in Tom Stoppard’s “Night and Day” in 1979 earlier than getting cast because the troubled father in “Purple Rain,” which got here out in 1984.

Director John Frankenheimer would turn into a frequent collaborator. They first teamed up for his adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s “52 Pick-Up” at a time when Williams was not having a lot luck in Hollywood and crashing on Cosby’s sofa to maintain a roof over his head.

“He asked me to read for the part of one of the blackmailers, but after only four lines, he told me to stop,” Williams recalled in a 1999 interview. “I thought it was all over, but he said, ‘Have your agent call me. It will be a 10-week shoot. Thank you for coming in.’ That was it.”

Williams additionally appeared in Frankenheimer’s “Against the Wall,” “Reindeer Games” and a few episodes of “Tales from the Crypt.”

Williams might command a wide range of genres, together with comedy. He performed a drug lord reverse Dave Chappelle in “Half Baked” and stole scenes in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation parody film “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” He additionally had a recurring function because the FBI agent in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” who tells Agent Cooper he’s been suspended.

Williams by no means fretted over his longtime affiliation with “The Mod Squad.”

“All most people know about me is the two hours they’ve invested in a movie theater or the time spent in front of their TV,” he stated in an interview in 1999. “There’s so much entertainment out there right now, it’s difficult to break through and become part of the national consciousness. It’s nice to be recognized, and I have no problem with it at all.”

He was married to the actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984.