American-born Clarence Gilyard Jr is a veteran actor, director, producer, author and also a college professor. His acting career spans several decades and has seen him feature in many films, TV shows, and theatre productions.
Clarence Gilyard Jr. is best known for his role as Conrad McMasters, a private investigator on the legal drama series Matlock (1989–93). He is also known for his role as Pastor Bruce Barnes in the Christian thriller film Left behind (2000) and its sequel Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002).
Clarence Gilyard Jr. Biography (Age)
Clarence Darnell Gilyard Jr. was born on December 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington. His father Clarence Gilyard Sr. was serving in the United States Air Force at the time. He was raised alongside 5 siblings. The family relocated several times and lived in the Air Force bases of different states.
Clarence Gilyard Jr. schooled at Eisenhower High School in Rialto, California. He was an excellent student and he completed his high school education in 1974. However, his college education was a bit complicated. Upon graduation from high school, he first joined the U.S. Air Force Academy and left after one year, transferring to Sterling College in central Kansas. He played for the school’s football team but was not able to obtain a football scholarship and so he quit.
Gilyard Jr relocated to California where he earned a living working at a clothing store. He later worked as an industrial chemical dealer and also as a waiter. Gilyard equally enrolled at California State University, Long Beach where he majored in theatre. He would eventually complete his undergraduate studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
He also joined a children theatre group which marked the beginning of his acting career. His first acting gig was the role of a cheerleader in the play Bleacher Bums (1979), which made him the first known black person to undertake the role of a cheerleader.
Throughout the 1980s, he appeared in several TV shows including Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Simon & Simon, Riptide as well as NBC’s CHiPs. He equally starred in movies such as Top Gun (1986), The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and Die Hard (1988). However, none of these roles had the cutting edge required to establish him as a household name in Hollywood.
In 1989, the then-struggling actor eventually got his breakthrough when he landed the recurring role of Conrad McMasters alongside Andy Griffith in the TV legal drama Matlock. His stint on Matlock ended in 1993 after which he snapped up another role on the action series Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001). Gilyard Jr. starred as James “Jimmy” Trivette throughout the 8-season run of the show. He also appeared in the telefilm adaptation of the series Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire (2005).
In 2003, Clarence Gilyard Jr. obtained a Masters degree in classical theatre from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He serves as an Associate Professor at the Department of Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he teaches film acting and theatre. He equally continues to feature in several theatre productions.
In addition to his academic exploits, Clarence Gilyard Jr. is also a real-life cowboy and he participates in celebrity rodeos aimed at raising funds for various children’s charities.
His Family, Wife, and Children
Clarence Gilyard Jr has had 2 marriages. He also has five children; 2 children from his first marriage and 3 from his current marriage. He met his first wife Catherine Dutko while in college. The details about their union remain sketchy, however, they have 2 children together. Their marriage ended in a divorce due to the fact that the actor was unfaithful.
Clarence Gilyard Jr and his second wife, Elena, have been married since 2001. After their wedding, the actor decided that Hollywood was not the best place to raise a family. Therefore he stepped back from acting and headed to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in classical theatre. So far, he has kept his family as far as possible from Hollywood.
The actor grew up as a Lutheran. But, after his first marriage fell apart in the early 90s, he found solace in the Catholic church. He remains dedicated to the Catholic faith and has served as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Communications.
Height – How Tall Is He?
If you have been wondering how tall the man is, you don’t have to speculate anymore, here is the fact – Clarence Gilyard Jr is 5 feet 8 inches tall (174 cm).