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Character actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for his role in the Christmas movie “Die Hard”, passed away unexpectedly on Monday at age 66

His death was confirmed in a statement from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he worked as an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts.

“It is with profound sadness that I share this news,” said Dean Nancy Uscher in the statement shared on Instagram. “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.”

The statement continued:

“Whenever we asked him how he was, he would cheerfully declare that he was ‘Blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who were blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”

Gilyard is best known for his acting roles in the blockbuster films “Die Hard” and “Top Gun” and the TV shows “Walker, Texas Ranger”, “CHiPs” and “Matlock.”

Gilyard walked away from acting in 2006 to pursue his master’s degree in theater at Southern Methodist University.

“I’m wired to teach. And I’m a professional, but the profession has to feed the classroom. It’s what stimulates my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century,” Gilyard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017.

“I work best as an artist when I’m in a fertile arena. That means creative and imaginative,” he added. “Being with all those millennials — I don’t understand what they’re saying but I’m siphoning off their energy.”

Tributes pour in on social media from fellow actors and fans of his work.