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.
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.