Clarence Williams III, “Mod Squad” and “Purple Rain” actor dies at 81

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Jason Kempin/Getty Images for FIJI

Clarence Williams III, the actor best-known for portraying Linc Hayes on the 1968-73 ABC television series, The Mod Squaddied on Friday of colon cancer, his manager confirmed to ABC News.  Williams was 81.

Born in Harlem on August 21, 1939, Williams was the son of professional musician Clay Williams but was raised by his grandparents, which included composer-pianist Clarence Williams, a frequent collaborator of blues legend Bessie Smith.

Williams’ career began on the theater, where he earned a Tony nomination in 1965 for best featured actor in a play for his work in the three-person drama Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.

The actor was best known for playing Linc on The Mod Squad opposite of Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes and Michael Cole as Pete Cochran.

Williams’ other credits include playing Prince’s father in the 1984 film, Purple Rain, as well as the films 52 Pick-UpReindeer Games and Tales from the Hood.  More recently, he appeared in Lee Daniels’ The Butler in 2013 as Maynard.

The actor also demonstrated a flair for comedy, playing a former leader of the People’s Revolutionary Army in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ 1988 blaxploitation parody I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.  He also worked with Dave Chappelle in 1998’s Half-Baked.

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