Clarence Williams III, who played Prince‘s father in Purple Rain, has died aged 81.
The actor passed away on Friday (June 4) after being diagnosed with colon cancer, his manager confirmed on Sunday (June 6).
Prince’s estate paid tribute to the actor via Twitter for his “gripping performance” as the performer’s abusive father in the singer’s 1984 film.
“In addition to iconic roles in The Mod Squad and Twin Peaks, Clarence will forever be remembered for his gripping performance as The Kid’s father, Francis L., in Prince’s breakthrough film Purple Rain,” read the post.
Rest in honor, Clarence Williams III. In addition to iconic roles in The Mod Squad and Twin Peaks, Clarence will forever be remembered for his gripping performance as The Kid's father, Francis L., in Prince's breakthrough film Purple Rain. #ClarenceWilliamsIII pic.twitter.com/8uleEvHbWz
— Prince (@prince) June 7, 2021
Williams served as a paratrooper before turning his attention towards acting on Broadway. In 1964, he received a Tony nomination for his role in William Hanley’s Slow Dance On The Killing Ground.
Williams’ break as a screen actor came in 1968 when he was cast as juvenile delinquent turned undercover cop Lincoln “Linc” Hayes in The Mod Squad. The show ran for more than 120 episodes across five years.
Williams reprised his character in a 1979 TV movie that reunited the show’s original cast.
He would join his co-star Peggy Lipton some years later in Twin Peaks where he played the small part of FBI Agent Roger Hardy.
Lee Daniels, who directed Williams in The Butler, took to Twitter to pay his respects.
“An extraordinary actor. Revolutionary. Ahead of his time. What an honour to work with this man on The Butler. Rest in Power,” he wrote.
— Lee Daniels (@leedanielsent) June 7, 2021
Williams was once married to fellow actor Gloria Foster, best known for playing the Oracle in The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded.