Clarence Williams III

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This article is about the actor. For the American football player, see Clarence Williams (receiver). For other uses, see Clarence Williams (disambiguation).
Clarence Williams III
Clarence Williams III Mod Squad 1971.JPG
Williams in 1971
Born (1939-08-21) August 21, 1939 (age 77)
New York, New York
Occupation Actor
Years active 1960–present
Spouse(s) Gloria Foster (1967–1984, divorced)

Clarence Williams III (born August 21, 1939)[1] is an American actor who is perhaps best known for his role as "Linc Hayes" on the iconic "hippie" cop show The Mod Squad (1968-1973). He is a stage, film and television actor, who occasionally directs. He was married to and divorced from actress Gloria Foster.

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, New York,[2] Williams was the son of a professional musician, Clay Williams,[3] and grandson of jazz and blues composer/pianist Clarence Williams and his singer-actress wife, Eva Taylor.[4] Raised by his paternal grandmother, he became interested in acting after accidentally walking onto a stage at a theater below a Harlem YMCA.[2]


Williams began pursuing an acting career after spending two years in the United States Air Force.[citation needed] He first appeared on Broadway in The Long Dream (1960), and received a Theatre World Award[citation needed] and Tony nomination[citation needed] for the three-person play Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (1964).[citation needed] Continuing his work on stage, he appeared in Walk in Darkness (1963), Sarah and the Sax (1964), Doubletalk (1964), and King John.[citation needed] He also served as artist-in-residence at Brandeis University in 1966.[2]

Williams' breakout role was as undercover cop Linc Hayes on the highly popular counterculture TV cop series The 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 the role of Prince's tormented father, who was also a musician in Purple Rain (1984), 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, Law & Order. 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 supporting role as George Wallace's fictional African-American butler and caretaker in the 1997 TNT movie George Wallace. J.E. Freeman played Philby in the first movie.

From 2003 to 2007, Williams had a recurring role as Philby Cross in the Mystery Woman movie series on the Hallmark Channel. He appeared in all but the first of the eleven movies alongside Kellie Martin. In the seventh (Mystery Woman: At First Sight) movie, he reunited with his Mod Squad co-star Michael Cole.


  1. ^ "Clarence Williams, III [sic] Biography (1939-)". Archived from the original on April 15, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Clarence Williams III". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved May 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Thomson, Cordell S. (January 14, 1971). "New York Beat". Jet. p. 57. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Clarence Williams: Composer, Producer, Director, Performer, Writer, Lyricist, Musical Director". Internet Broadway Database (The Broadway League). Archived from the original on June 1, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 

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