‘Mod Squad’ Actor Clarence Williams III Dies At Age 81

Many of his roles embodied Black power and cool.

Clarence Williams III, who co-starred in the late 1960s TV series The Mod Squad and symbolized Black Power on the show, died on Friday (June 4) in Los Angeles.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Williams suffered from colon cancer. He was 81 years old.

Williams played Lincoln “Linc” Hayes, part of a trio of young detectives that included Michael Cole as Pete Cochran and Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes. The characters all had run-ins with the police as youths before becoming undercover cops. Linc, who sported an afro and exuded Black coolness, was arrested during the Watts riots.

They represented and gave voice to a countercultural generation of American youth in the late 60s and early 70s who spoke out against racism and the nation’s war in Vietnam.

The Harlem native grew up in a musical family, according to Yahoo! News. His father, Clay Williams, was a professional musician. His grandfather, Clarence Williams, was a pianist and composer who worked alongside blues icon Bessie Smith.

RELATED: Hundreds Gather To Say Goodbye To Cicely Tyson In Harlem

Williams’ other notable acting credits also include portraying Prince’s father in Purple Rain and his role in Keenen Ivory Wayans blaxploitation comedy I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

Select the types of notification you would like to receive from us. Please note, you must choose at least one.

By clicking subscribe, I consent to receiving newsletters and other marketing emails. Newsletters are subject to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Users can unsubscribe at any time.