Clarence Williams III
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|Clarence Williams III|
Williams in 1971.
August 21, 1939 |
New York, New York
Clarence Williams III (born August 21, 1939) is the Tony Award-nominated actor who is perhaps best known for his role as "Linc Hayes" on the iconic "hippie" cop show The Mod Squad (1968-1973). A stage, film and television actor, who occasionally directs, he is known for having been married to and divorced from the late stage and screen actress Gloria Foster (best known as the Oracle in the movie The Matrix).
Born in New York City, New York, Williams was the son of a touring musician and grandson of legendary jazz composer/pianist Clarence Williams and his blues singer wife, Eva Taylor. Raised by his paternal grandmother, he became interested in acting after accidentally walking onto a stage at a theater below a Harlem YMCA.
Williams began pursuing an acting career after spending two years in the United States Air Force. He first appeared on Broadway in The Long Dream (1960), and received a Theatre World Award and Tony nomination for the three-person play Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (1964). Continuing his work on stage, he appeared in Walk in Darkness (1963), Sarah and the Sax (1964), Doubletalk (1964), and King John. He also served as artist-in-residence at Brandeis University in 1966.
His break-out role was as undercover cop Linc Hayes on the highly popular counterculture TV cop series Mod Squad (1968), along with fellow relative unknowns Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton. Since the series ended in 1973, he has worked in a variety of genres on stage and screen, from comedy (I'm Gonna Git You Sucka; Half-Baked) to sci-fi (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and drama (Purple Rain). Spanning over forty years, his career includes a recurring role in the surreal TV series Twin Peaks (1990), a good cop in Deep Cover (1992), a rioter in the mini-series Against the Wall (1994), and Wesley Snipes' chemically dependent Dad in Sugar Hill (1993). Other TV roles include Hill Street Blues, the Canadian cult classic The Littlest Hobo, Miami Vice, The Highwayman, Burn Notice, Everybody Hates Chris, Justified, a recurring role as Philby Cross in the Mystery Woman and in movie series on the Hallmark Channel. He can be seen in movies such as 52 Pick-Up, Life, The Cool World, Deep Cover, Tales from the Hood, Half-Baked, King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis, Hoodlum, Frogs for Snakes, Starstruck, The General's Daughter, Reindeer Games, Impostor, The Legend of 1900, and Purple Rain. He also played a supportive role as George Wallace's fictional African-American butler and caretaker in the 1997 TNT TV movie George Wallace, and as Ellsworth Raymond "Bumpy" Johnson in American Gangster in 2007. Uncredited film roles include Pork Chop Hill (1959) and American Gangster (2007).