Clarence Williams III

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Clarence Williams III
Clarence Williams III Mod Squad 1971.JPG
Williams in 1971
Born (1939-08-21) August 21, 1939 (age 81)
Years active1960–2018[1]
(m. 1967⁠–⁠1984)

Clarence Williams III (born August 21, 1939)[2] is a retired[3] American actor. He best known for playing the character "Linc Hayes" in the "hippie" cop show The Mod Squad from 1968 to 1973.

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City,[4] Williams is the son of a professional musician, Clarence "Clay" Williams Jr.,[5] and grandson of jazz and blues composer/pianist Clarence Williams and his singer-actress wife, Eva Taylor.[6] Raised by his paternal grandmother, he became interested in acting after accidentally walking onto a stage at a theater below a Harlem YMCA.[4]


Williams began pursuing an acting career after spending two years as a paratrooper in C Company, 506th Infantry, of the 101st Airborne Division. He first appeared on Broadway in The Long Dream (1960). Continuing his work on stage, he appeared in Walk in Darkness (1963), Sarah and the Sax (1964), Doubletalk (1964), and King John.[citation needed] His breakout theatrical role was in William Hanley's Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, for which he received a Tony Award nomination. The New York Times drama critic Howard Taubman wrote of his performance, "Mr. Williams glides like a dancer, giving his long, fraudulently airy speeches the inner rhythms of fear and showing the nakedness of terror when he ceases to pretend." He also served as artist-in-residence at Brandeis University in 1966.[7]

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, and The Legend of 1900. He also played a supporting role as George Wallace's fictional African-American butler and caretaker in the 1997 TNT movie George Wallace.

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. (J.E. Freeman played Philby in the Mystery Woman first movie.) In the seventh (Mystery Woman: At First Sight) movie, he reunited with his Mod Squad co-star Michael Cole. He played Bumpy Johnson in the film American Gangster.[8] From 2005 to 2007 Williams had another recurring role as the voice of Councilor Andam on the Disney series American Dragon Jake Long

Personal life[edit]

Foster and Williams in a Mod Squad episode in 1970. Foster guest-starred as a blind friend of Linc Hayes.

Williams married the actress Gloria Foster in 1967. They worked together on The Mod Squad; Foster made two guest appearances. The two were also in a movie, The Cool World, in 1964. In 1984 they filed for divorce, but remained friends. They had no children. Williams announced Foster's death in 2001. He resides in Palo Alto, California.

Selected credits[edit]


Year Film Role Director Notes
1984 Purple Rain Father Albert Magnoli
1986 52 Pick-Up Bobby Shy John Frankenheimer
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Kalinga Keenen Ivory Wayans
1992 Deep Cover Taft Bill Duke
1993 Sugar Hill A.R. Skuggs Leon Ichaso
1995 Tales from the Hood Mr. Simms Rusty Cundieff
1997 Hoodlum Bub Hewlett Bill Duke
1998 The Legend of 1900 Jelly Roll Morton Giuseppe Tornatore
Half Baked Samson Simpson Tamra Davis
1999 Life Winston Hancock Ted Demme
The General’s Daughter Colonel Fowler Simon West
2000 Reindeer Games Merlin John Frankenheimer
2003 The Extreme Team Zachary Leslie Libman
2005 Constellation Forest Boxer Jordan Walker-Pearlman
Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend Philby Mark Griffiths Hallmark movie
Mystery Woman: Snapshot George Standford Brown
Mystery Woman: Sing Me A Murder Stephen Bridgewater
Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder Kellie Martin
Mystery Woman: Game Time David S. Cass Sr.
2006 Mystery Woman: At First Sight Kellie Martin
Mystery Woman: Wild West Mystery David S. Cass Sr.
Mystery Woman: Oh Baby
Mystery Woman: Redemption
2007 Mystery Woman: In the Shadows
The Blue Hour Ridley Eric Nazarian
American Gangster Bumpy Johnson Ridley Scott
2009 The Way of War Mac John Carter
A Day in the Life Sam Sticky Fingaz
2013 The Butler Maynard Lee Daniels
2016 Snowbird Bob Sean Baker


Year Title Role Notes
1968–1973 The Mod Squad Lincoln "Linc" Hayes 123 episodes
1979 The Littlest Hobo
1983 Hill Street Blues Lester Minley Episode: "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow" (S4, E16)
1985 Miami Vice Maximilian "Legba" Ildefonse Episode: "Tale of the Goat" (S2, E7)
1996 Star Trek DS9 Omet'iklan Episode: "To the Death" (S4, E23)
2000 Law & Order Latiff Miller Episode: "Burn, Baby, Burn" (S11, E6)
2005-2007 American Dragon Jake Long Councilor Andam Voice 5 episodes
2005-2007 Mystery Woman Philby 10 episodes
2005 Everybody Hates Chris Tate Episode: "Everybody Hates Basketball" (S1, E3)


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Clarence Williams, III [sic] Biography (1939-)". Archived from the original on April 15, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Clarence Williams III". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  5. ^ Thomson, Cordell S. (January 14, 1971). "New York Beat". Jet. p. 57. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "The Theater: 'Slow Dance on the Killing Ground'; William Hanley Makes His Broadway Debut Story of Tortured Trio Opens at Plymouth". Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  8. ^ "Review: Brilliant Washington powers 'Gangster'". November 1, 2007.

External links[edit]