Clarence Gilyard, best known for his role as computer hacker Theo in Die Hard and naval flight officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun, has died at 66 years of age.

His death was announced on Monday November 29 in a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he had been working as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts.

“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” Dean Nancy Uscher said in the statement shared on instagram.

“His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments.”

Heather Addison, UNLV film chair remembered Gilyard as a “beacon of light and strength for everyone around him at UNLV”.

She added: “Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”

He landed his first role on the TV show Diff’rent Strokes in 1981 and in 1986, Gilyard made his film debut in Top Gun, in which he played Sundown, one of the elite fighter pilots.

Two years later, he was cast as Theo, the computer expert who helps Hans Gruber’s terrorist group, in the movie Die Hard.

He got his big primetime TV break in 1989, when he landed the role of Conrad McMasters on the NBC legal drama Matlock, starring opposite Andy Griffith. He then portrayed Chuck Norris’ crime-fighting partner Jimmy Trivette on Walker, Texas Ranger.

Despite having a thriving on-screen career, Gilyard stepped away from acting in 2006 to start teaching at UNLV and directing productions at the university’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre.

No further details surrounding his death have been made public.

Image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on OverSixty.