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Clarence Williams III

Clarence Williams III (1939–2021), “The Mod Squad” star

by Kirk Fox

Clarence Williams III starred as Linc on the pioneering TV detective series “The Mod Squad” and played Prince’s (1958–2016) father in the movie “Purple Rain.”

“The Mod Squad”

Clarence Williams III had already been nominated for a Tony Award, but his career took off when he starred as the cool, brooding Linc on the TV detective series “The Mod Squad.” The series was a groundbreaking hit during the counter culture era, airing on ABC from 1968 until 1973. “The Mod Squad” featured Williams III, Peggy Lipton (1946 –2019), and Michael Cole as three young, hip undercover detectives in Los Angeles. The series was one of the first to star a Black actor in a non-stereotypical role, and it took on important issues such as the Vietnam war, racism, illegal immigration, and addiction. Williams III had a long, successful acting career, playing Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” and appearing in “Twin Peaks,” “Reindeer Games,” “Half-Baked,” and he guest starred on many TV shows.

On the impact of his role as Linc

“[Linc] was a very different role for an African-American and a wonderful lead character that a lot of youngsters, Black and white, and principally African-American youngsters could identify with.” – The Los Angeles Times – 1995

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Tributes to Clarence Williams III

Full Obituary: The Hollywood Reporter

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