Clarence Williams III, known for his roles in The Mod Squad and Purple Rain has died. He was 81. According to TMZ, the veteran actor's management team confirmed yesterday (June 6th) that he died of colon cancer.

Williams started his career in the 1960s, winning a Tony Award for his role in Broadway play “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.” He landed his onscreen breakout role in crime drama series “The Mod Squad”, starring alongside Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton in 1968.

In a 1995 interview, he described the character as “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.”

In another interview in 1999, he said, “All most people know about me is the two hours they’ve invested in a movie theater or the time spent in front of their TV. There’s so much entertainment out there right now, it’s difficult to break through and become part of the national consciousness. It’s nice to be recognized, and I have no problem with it at all.”

Clarence is survived by his sister Sondra Pugh, daughter Jamey Phillips, niece Suyin Shaw, grandnephews Elliot Shaw and Ese Shaw and grandniece Azaria Verdin.