• Clarence Gilyard is an actor and professor with a net worth of over $5 million
• He grew up in a military family, and attended Eisenhower High School and Sterling College
• He debuted in the play "Bleacher Burns", and subsequently appeared in films such as "Top Gun" and "Die Hard"
• He is most known for his roles in "Matlock" and "Walker, Texas Ranger"
• He is married and has five children, and is good friends with Chuck Norris and considers the late Andy Griffith as his acting mentor

Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthDecember 24, 1955
SpouseElena Gilyard
MarkVery muscular physique
FactA cowboy buff.

Who is Clarence Gilyard?

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. was born on 24 December 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, USA, and is an actor as well as a professor, but best known for his acting work. He played the right-hand man to Ben Matlock in the series “Matlock”, and also played the partner of Chuck Norris in “Walker, Texas Ranger”. He worked on films too, such as “Top Gun” and “Die Hard”.

The Net Worth of Clarence Gilyard

As of early-2020, Clarence Gilyard has a net worth estimated to be over $5 million, earned through a successful career in acting in the entertainment industry since 1980. Though he took a long break from acting, he returned to work on the independent scene in recent years.

Early Life and Education

Clarence grew up in a military family, with his father working in thea US Air Force, so his family moved around, and he grew up on Air Force bases in several locations in the US.

He was born as the second of six children, with one of his brothers also pursuing a career in the Air Force. He, on the other hand, attended Eisenhower High School, and though he showed potential in school, he was often in the midst of trouble. He had problems with women, alcohol, and occasionally drugs, which led his parents to force him to move out to be set apart from his bad influences. He spent a year in the Air Force Academy, but left to attend Sterling College, where he played American Football for the college team.

Clarence Gilyard

He then discovered his passion for acting while in Long Beach, California, then enrolling at California State University, Long Beach to major in acting.

Career Beginnings

Gilyard completed his acting degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills and while doing so looked for acting opportunities. To make ends meet, he took odd jobs and briefly worked as a waiter before taking a job at a clothing store. He was promoted to manager of the store, but left to work as an industrial chemical salesman,  not fairing as well.

In 1979 he settled in Los Angeles and got his first acting project in the play “Bleacher Burns” becoming the first black actor to play the role of the cheerleader. He then moved to television, working as a guest in several television shows such as “Riptide”, “Diff’rent Strokes’, and “227”. In 1986, he secured one of his first prominent roles in the film “Top Gun” playing the F-14 Tomcat Rader Intercept Officer LTJG Marcus “Sundown” Williams. He then worked on “The Karate Kid Part II” before appearing in the Bruce Willis film “Die Hard” as the computer expert Theo.

He subsequently appeared in the films “Left Behind: The Movie” and “Left Behind II: Tribulation Force”.

Later Career

In 1989, Clarence was cast as the private investigator Conrad McMasters in “Matlock”, alongside Andy Griffith, remaining in the role for four years, and appeared during the first three seasons of the show, but later left following the show’s move from NBC to ABC. He was then cast in another notable role in the show “Walker, Texas Ranger” starring Chuck Norris, portraying fellow Ranger James “Jimmy” Trivette, who is the best friend of Norris’ character.

The show became a big hit, during which he did a lot of stunts, working in the series for its entire run and became good friends with the cast. He later made a cameo appearance in “Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire”, before announcing his retirement from acting in 2005.

After a seven-year break from the craft, he returned in 2012, but mostly worked on independent projects such as the film “A Matter of Faith”. In 2016, he was in the film “Driving Miss Daisy” which was released at The Neil Simon Film Festival.

He also portrayed the high school coach in “Madden 2018”.

Personal Life

Clarence has been married twice, first to Catherine which ended in divorce. In 2001, he married Elena Castillo and they have been together since; he has five children across his two marriages. His religion is Catholic, and serves with the US Catholic Bishops as a part of their Communications Committee.

He is very close friends with Chuck Norris as the two shared a lot of things in common, including their favorite Westerns and characters. Their parents also served in the Air Force, but during different periods. He considers the late Andy Griffith as his acting mentor, who helped him a lot particularly during their time together in “Matlock”.

General Info

Full NameClarence Gilyard
Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthDecember 24, 1955
Height1.74 m
ProfessionAuthor, Actor, Educator
EducationSterling College, United States Air Force Academy, Eisenhower High School, California State University, Dominguez Hills


SpouseElena Gilyard
ChildrenPeter Gilyard
ParentsClarence Gilyard, Sr., Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard
SiblingsMilton Gilyard


AwardsNAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
MoviesTop Gun, The Karate Kid Part II, Die Hard, The Great Los Angeles Earthquake, Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire, From Above, A Matter of Faith
TV ShowsWalker, Texas Ranger, Matlock, The Duck Factory, CHiPs, Left Behind

Social profile links


#Marks / Signs
1Nasally, whiny voice
2Very muscular physique
3Frequently played characters that are of the civil law


1[on his charity he spent time for] I always wanted to be a cowboy and work with my horse every weekend. My specialty is team roping. I had the pleasure of working with Charlie Sampson in Mesa, Arizonza, the last time out. He's the 1982 World Champion Rider. I love it out there, up to my butt in horses, calves, dirt and dung.
2[When he replaced Kene Holiday on Matlock (1986), in the role of Conrad] I was doing a lot of stress management that day. I decided to forget about the audition script and focus on how I felt about Andy the man. Having grown up with The Andy Griffith Show (1960), adoring the father-son relationship, I just figured to be Opie for a day. Well, I blew it. I was disappointed with myself, thinking I would never work again. But I turned on the TV in the limousine taking me back to the airport that night, and my second episode on Diff'rent Strokes (1978) happened to be on. I felt it was a good omen.
3I was part of a lot of great television projects. I started out on 'CHiPs' with Erik (Estrada). It was really consuming with Andy and Chuck. I do intend to go back, but not to the demise of the quality of life that I have now with my wife and five kids. And I always wanted that collegiate component in my life. It was one of those ("Godfather" author) Mario Puzo things. They made me an offer I couldn't refuse at a good university that's becoming a fine university. It's a great fit.
4[Of his spiritual talents]: To see those men do that was providential. It made me realize that artistically I have a lot of voices -- but how do I articulate all those voices unless I put my trust in some type of technique?
5[When his role on Walker, Texas Ranger (1993) came to an end, after 8 1/2 seasons]: I wanted to start over. Also, I was going to work on my new marriage. After 15 straight years of network TV I knew that I couldn't put a young marriage through that.
6[In the wake of his misbehavior of his marriage]: My wife left me because I started to have an affair.
7[on figuring out the many Catholics that get on their knees each day]: I don't know how many Catholics are aware of why we are on our knees in the presence of Jesus. That's where I needed to be. Mother Church allows that and informs us that way. It is one of the great gifts.
8[on Chuck Norris's, Cordell Walker]: There was really no one else in town who could play that character.
9I was a prodigal, and not learning a lot of healthy habits. I was doing a little drugs, drinking a lot, chasing women until my parents said, 'You've got to move out.'
10[when he wanted to be an actor] I knew it was the right choice from day one, then, through actor friends working at a restaurant where I was waiting tables at night.
11I knew that nobody in this business would ever ask to see my diploma - I did it for myself. I believe that the only way you can really change your life is to get new information. I also wanted to learn the classic, not fake them.
12[on being born Christmas Eve]: We did the best we could to make it a festive occasion, but I was always awed by what the kids in school said they got from Santa Claus. I couldn't quite bring myself to tell them about the boring underwear and socks I got year after year.
13[on turning 50]: I really have to work hard to keep up with them.
14[on why he would frequently grow his beard, outside of work]: If people look at you in an elevator long enough, they'll recognize you.
15[on how he sees himself as a character outside of his faith]: As a Catholic Christian, people don't necessarily want to see you in that way, as a person, as a father, as someone called to marriage or as an artist.
16[Of his journeyman career]: I had been trying to make it in show business without any real vision. I was getting some success because I was a type - I had a quality that producers were looking for. But I wasn't controlling my destiny.
17[on his character in "Left Behind"]: I am blessed to be a part of the production and get to play this character. I'm not the best actor in the world, but even better, I get to help this character evolve. I think God wants me to be playing Bruce Barnes.
18It took me 10 years, but I eventually graduated from college, too.
19Why I got to do 13 straight years of network television and somebody else didn't, who knows?
20I grew up as an Air Force brat. My family moved around a lot. I entered the U.S. Air Force Academy after high school, but left after a year. I couldn't afford to stay at Sterling College in Kansas, where I played wide receiver for the football team, so I went to work and eventually moved back to California.


1Surrogate son of Andy Griffith.
2Credits Andy Griffith as his favorite acting mentor/best friend.
3When Matlock (1986) moved production from Los Angeles to North Carolina, at the beginning of the seventh season, it was Andy Griffith who suggested to him that he moved there. Fortunately, for Gilyard, he resided in North Carolina, for over a year, and moved back to Los Angeles.
4Has returned to college to get his masters degree in Acting from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. [September 2003]
5Best friends with Sheree J. Wilson.
6He is an associate professor of theater at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. [August 2006]
7Lived in Los Angeles, California, from 1980 to 1992, and again from 1993 to 2001.
8His acting mentors were the late Andy Griffith and Chuck Norris.
9Gilyard was a finalist for the role of Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
10Went to the same high school as ex-Allies lead guitarist Randy Thomas and actor/singer Kirk Fogg.
11Attended California State University, Long Beach, with a major in theater.
12His father, Clarence Sr., had converted his religion from Baptist to Lutheran, which Clarence Jr. practiced in California, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, everywhere.
13Before he was an actor, he worked with his housemate at a clothing store. He was promoted to manager.
14His brother, Milton, is moderately developmentally disabled.
15Graduated from Eisenhower High School in Rialto, California, in 1974.
16Like his father, he went to the Air Force Academy.
17The second of six children.
18His family was originally from New Orleans, Louisiana.
19Serves as a consultant of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Communications.
20Originally a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
21His son, Peter, was born on May 30, 2007.
22As a little boy, like co-star Nancy Stafford, he was a huge fan of The Andy Griffith Show (1960). Several years after that show went off the air, he beat out three other actors for the role of a private investigator on Andy Griffith's Matlock (1986), for the fourth season of the series, when he replaced Kene Holiday.
23A cowboy buff.
24Three of the movies he has starred in have gone on to gross well over $150 million each in worldwide box office and DVD sales.
25Best known by the public for his roles as Conrad McMasters on Matlock (1986), and as James "Jimmy" Trivette on Walker, Texas Ranger (1993).
26After joining the cast of the play "Bleacher Burns," Clarence became the first black actor to play the role of the cheerleader. By coincidence, the real-life person on whom the cheerleader at Wrigley Field was based was indeed black.
27He began his acting career working in the children's theater.
28Gilyard was born in Moses Lakes, Washington, but was raised on military bases in Hawaii, Texas, and Florida.
29He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
30Attended Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas, for some time. After his success as an actor, Clarence has given back to the college in many ways, one of which was paying for new tennis courts for the college.




The Sector2016Reverend Raines
Rabbit Days2016Auguste Porter
The Track2015Psychiatrist
A Matter of Faith2014Professor Portland
artScene2013TV Series
From Above2013Jeremiah Ward
Little Monsters2012Ben Foreman
Top Gun 2: Back to Traffic School2012ShortSundown
Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire2005TV MovieJames Trivette (as Clarence Gilyard)
Left Behind II: Tribulation Force2002Pastor Bruce Barnes (as Clarence Gilyard)
Walker, Texas Ranger1993-2001TV SeriesJames Trivette
Left Behind: The Movie2000VideoBruce Barnes (as Clarence Gilyard)
Sons of Thunder1999TV SeriesRanger Jimmy Trivette
Walker Texas Ranger 3: Deadly Reunion1994James Trivette (as Clarence Gilyard)
Matlock1989-1993TV SeriesConrad McMasters
The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake1990TV MovieRoy Bryant
L.A. Takedown1989TV MovieMustafa Jackson
Die Hard1988Theo
The Facts of Life1987TV SeriesMatt
Off the Mark1987James B. White
2271987TV SeriesHarold Bailey
Simon & Simon1986TV SeriesWally Stokes
The Karate Kid Part II1986G.I. #1
Top Gun1986Sundown
Solomon's Universe1985TV MovieCasey
Riptide1984TV SeriesWilliam Collins
The Duck Factory1984TV SeriesRoland Culp
Things Are Looking Up1984TV MovieClement McCallister
CHiPs1982-1983TV SeriesOfficer Benjamin Webster / Webster
The Kid with the 200 I.Q.1983TV Movie
Making the Grade1982TV Series
Diff'rent Strokes1981TV SeriesFrank Simpson / The Student


Walker, Texas Ranger1999TV Series 1 episode


Boondoggle1999executive producer


Matlock1989TV Series performer - 1 episode


Top Gun 2: Back to Traffic School2012Short special thanks


The Making of 'Left Behind II: Tribulation Force'2002Video documentary shortHimself (as Clarence Gilyard)
The Making of 'Left Behind: The Movie'2000Video documentary shortHimself
Orange Bowl Parade1997TV MovieHimself - Host
Walker: Behind the Scenes with TV's Toughest Cop1996TV Movie documentaryHimself

Archive Footage

Matlock1994-1995TV SeriesConrad McMasters


Won Awards

2000Image AwardImage AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesWalker, Texas Ranger (1993)
1999Lone Star Film & Television AwardLone Star Film & Television AwardsBest TV Supporting ActorWalker, Texas Ranger (1993)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected].

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