Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for his main role in the television series Walker, Texas Ranger, died at the age of 66.

In 1986, he made his film debut in Top Gun, and the following year, he was hired in a supporting role as computer hacker Theo in Die Hard.

Following that, the film and television veteran was a series regular on Matlock for four seasons until landing his big break with Walker, Texas Ranger, where he starred in all eight seasons of the hit show.

“I’ve been fortunate.”  Gilyard previously collaborated with Michael Mann, John Avildsen, and Tony Scott.

“There are actors who are more brilliant and have a better physical look, but the filmmakers who were after me said, ‘This kid should be in my movie.’”

“He assured me that, while I would have to be adaptable and confront the reality of the business, working in this area would allow me to realize my aspirations.”

Gilyard was born in Moses Lake, Washington, but he and his family moved to numerous air bases across the country before landing in California.

Gilyard served in the United States Air Force. Elena, the performer from “Matlock,” had been blissfully married to him since 2001.

Gilyard received his bachelor’s degree in acting from California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Dominguez Hills.

He spent the last portion of his career as an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ College of Fine Arts, where he has taught since 2006.

The institution confirmed his death in a statement, calling him “a source of light and strength for everyone around him.”

“Whenever we questioned about his well-being, he would cheerfully exclaim, “Blessed!” However, we were the ones who were actually blessed to work alongside him and be his students for so many years.”

“We are going to miss you and love you terribly.” G, Professor! Heather Addison, chair of the UNLV film department, stated.

Nancy J. Uscher, Dean of the UNLV School of Medicine, said in a statement that “his students and all who knew him were tremendously inspired by him.”

“He was quite well-known in the university due to his love for teaching and professional accomplishments,”

The circumstances behind Gilyard’s death have not yet been made public.