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Actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., pastor in ‘Left Behind' movie, dies at 66

Clarence Gilyard Jr.
Screengrab: YouTube/Walker Texas Ranger fan

Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for his roles in Hollywood action films, has died at age 66.

The actor who played the role of a pastor in the original “Left Behind” movie and became a professor. His death was announced by Nancy J. Uscher, the dean of fine arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where Gilyard taught as an associate professor. 

"It is with profound sadness that I share this news," Uscher said in the statement Monday. "His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments. He had a national and international following through his celebrated work in the theatre, in film, and television."

The cause of death has not been released.

Gilyard also starred on the small screen in the hit ‘90s series “Walker, Texas Ranger” where he starred alongside actor Chuck Norris. 

"It's with great sadness to hear of the passing of a dear friend and co-star, Clarence Gilyard. For nearly a decade, we had many great times working together, and we both loved bringing the bad guys to justice," Norris wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. 

He added, "My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children. You will be deeply missed by all who knew you. May you Rest In Peace, my friend. Until we meet again."

Along with an impressive resume which includes roles in “Die Hard” and “Top Gun,” Gilyard starred in the popular Christian movie franchise “Left Behind” in the early 2000s. The actor was raised in the Lutheran denomination and later became a devout Catholic. Gilyard one said his faith helped him battle a yearslong struggle with drug and sex addictions.

"I hit bottom, I hit bottom … I was pretty much sex, drugs, and rock and roll, ya know what I mean?" he said in a 2016 interview with the Catholic News Agency.

The actor said he was first invited to a Catholic church by a friend he met in a recovery program.

"Man, it rocked my world, it rocked me. So, I went to the priest on the way out, and I said hey, can I come see you this week? And the rest is history," he said at the time.

In a separate interview, Gilyard told CMGlobal his daily quest eventually became to make everything he does for God a prayer.

"I have come to realize that my approach to this life is necessarily evolving: evolving and maturing into a critical daily request to our good God to help me make mine, my life and my labors, my work, a prayer," he added in the 2018 interview.

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: jeannie.law@christianpost.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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