Clarence Gilyard, known for his productions at the Egyptian Theatre, dies |

Clarence Gilyard, known for his productions at the Egyptian Theatre, dies

Actor and producer enjoyed his connection with St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Actor, director and producer Clarence Gilyard (in yellow cap) gives some hugs as Father Christopher Gray of St. Mary’s Catholic Church looks on after Gilyard gave a parish-wide presentation in March. Gilyard, an Emmy Award-nominated actor who has appeared in “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Matlock,” died earlier this week. Parkites know Gilyard through his work with St. Mary’s Church, but also through his theater work with the Simon Fest Theatre Company productions that have been presented at the Egyptian Theatre.
Photo by Anthony Mazur

Clarence Gilyard Jr., whom many in Park City know from his local work in theater and St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, passed away after a long illness in Las Vegas on Nov. 28. He was 66.

Many Parkites know Gilyard through his work directing and/or starring in a string of Simon Fest Theatre Company plays including “Biloxi Blues,” “The Foreigner,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Broadway Bound” that were performed locally at the Egyptian Theatre throughout the years.

Gilyard meant a lot to the Egyptian Theatre, and he was a personal friend to its manager, Randy Barton.

“I counted him as a colleague, a brother and a true friend and will miss him tremendously,” Barton said. “He was truly a fine actor and even though he had accomplished so much in his career, his humility and passion for his work was inspirational. He poured himself into all these roles and always with fabulous positivity.”

Acting, directing and producing was in Gilyard’s blood. 

He was an Emmy Award-winning actor who starred on TV as Jimmy Trivette in “Walker, Texas Ranger,” private investigator Conrad McMasters on “Matlock” and Officer Benjamin Webster in “CHiPs.” He also appeared in theatrical films such as “Top Gun” and “Die Hard.”

In addition to his work in acting, Gilyard, an associate professor in the College of Fine Arts’ Department of Theatre at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at the time of his death, was a devout Catholic and served as the consultant of the communications committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

While in Park City, Gilyard enjoyed his time working with and attending St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Last March he led the church’s parish-wide summit, Christ and Creativity: The Word and the Power of Artistic Expression.

Father Christopher Gray, pastor of the Park City Parish, said he and his congregation will “dearly miss” their friend.

“A faithful man, he tied the power of his art to the source of his faith: a deep love of Jesus’ mercy,” Gray said. “In particular, it was a joy to hear him speak about acting and about his faith at our Summit last March. Although he was clearly very sick, he poured out his heart, captivating his audience.”

Gilyard also participated in the church’s virtual devotionals, Coffee with Fr. Gray, throughout his illness.

“Visibly in hospital, he would frequently join us … which was yet another personal inspiration for me that this ministry truly matters,” Gray said. 

Gilyard was born Dec. 24, 1955, in Moses Lake, Washington, the second of six children. He was raised as “a military brat,” he said, on Air Force bases across the county before his family settled in California. 

After spending a year at the Air Force Academy, Gilyard attended Sterling College, in Kansas, before moving his studies to California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in acting.

Gilyard added to his credentials with a master of fine arts in theater performance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He joined the University of Nevada faculty in 2006.

Gilyard’s work with the Simon Fest Theatre Company in Cedar City began in 2002 when he met the company’s founder Richard Bugg, who stepped down from his post in 2020, while they were working on an episode of “Waker, Texas Ranger.”

“We were shooting in Park City and became friends,” Gilyard told The Park Record in 2015. “I’ve been part of the (Simon) festival for four years now.”

Gilyard is survived by his wife, Elana, and five children, including two from his first marriage.

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