Clarence Williams III—an actor known for his work in The Mod Squad, Purple Rain, 52 Pick-Up, and Reindeer Games—has died at the age of 81 after a battle with colon cancer, his management tells Deadline.
The Tony-nominated performer is most recognized for his work in television’s The Mod Squad, which aired from 1968 to 1973, and starred Williams as detective Linc Hayes. Williams got his start on Broadway, earning a Tony nod for Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, a three-person drama he starred in.
Music fans, however, may recognize Williams as Prince’s father in 1984’s Purple Rain, a film that debuted Prince as an actor and grossed an impressive $72 million worldwide.
Other career standouts for Williams include appearing opposite Wesley Snipes and Michael Wright, as yet another father, in 1993’s Sugar Hill, and as Jelly Roll Morton in Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1998 effort The Legend of 1900.
Williams, who was born in Harlem in 1939, was raised by his grandparents—including his grandfather Clarence Williams, a collaborator of blues icon Bessie Smith. Williams is survived by daughter Jamey Phillips, niece Suyin Shaw, grandnephews Elliot Shaw and Ese Shaw, and grandniece Azaria Verdin, as well as his sister Sondra Pugh.