Clarence Williams III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Clarence Williams III
Clarence Williams III Mod Squad 1971.JPG
Williams in 1971
Born (1939-08-21) August 21, 1939 (age 80)
Years active1960–present
Gloria Foster (m. 1967–1984)

Clarence Williams III (born August 21, 1939)[1] is an American actor. He played the character "Linc Hayes" in the "hippie" cop show The Mod Squad (1968–1973).

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City,[2] Williams is the son of a professional musician, Clarence "Clay" Williams Jr.,[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 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.[5]

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.

Personal life[edit]

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

Williams was married to the actress Gloria Foster in 1967. They met on the television show The Mod Squad that ran from the late 1960s to the early 1970s; Foster made two guest appearances. The two were also in a movie, The Cool World, in 1964. In 1984 they filed for a divorce, but remained friends. Williams was the one to announce Foster's death in 2001.

Selected Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Director Notes
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Kalinga Keenen Ivory Wayans
1995 Tales from the Hood Mr. Simms Rusty Cundieff Produced by Spike Lee
1997 Hoodlum Bub Hewlett Bill Duke
1998 The Legend of 1900 Jelly Roll Morton Giuseppe Tornatore
1998 Half Baked Samson Simpson Tamra Davis
1999 Life Winston Hancock Ted Demme
1999 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
2007 The Blue Hour Ridley Eric Nazarian
2005 Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend Philby Mark Griffiths Hallmark Movie
2005 Mystery Woman: Snapshot Philby George Standford Brown Hallmark Movie
2005 Mystery Woman: Sing Me A Murder Philby Stephen Bridgewater Hallmark Movie
2005 Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder Philby Kellie Martin Hallmark Movie
2005 Mystery Woman: Game Time Philby David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark Movie
2006 Mystery Woman: At First Sight Philby Kellie Martin Hallmark Movie
2006 Mystery Woman: Wild West Mystery Philby David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark Movie
2006 Mystery Woman: Oh Baby Philby David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark Movie
2006 Mystery Woman: Redemption Philby David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark Movie
2007 Mystery Woman: In the Shadows Philby David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark Movie
2007 American Gangster Bumpy Johnson Ridley Scott
2009 The Way of War Mac John Carter
2009 A Day in the Life Sam Sticky Fingaz
2013 The Butler Maynard Lee Daniels
2016 Snowbird Bob Sean Baker


  1. ^ "Clarence Williams, III [sic] Biography (1939-)". Archived from the original on April 15, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Clarence Williams III". Archived from the original on October 21, 2013.
  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.
  5. ^ "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.

External links[edit]