Clarence Williams III Dies At 81
Clarence Williams III was born on August 21, 1939, in New York City. He died June 4th, 2021, losing a battle with colon cancer. He lived to be 81 years old.
Remembering a Legend
Williams dove into acting after leaving Army service. He spent two years as a paratrooper in 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. Clarence Williams was a U.S. Army veteran.
I’ll have to say that I will deeply miss Clarence Williams.
While never having a hyper-mainstream stardom, Clarence Williams in a movie was a universal treasure. Outside of perhaps Samuel L. Jackson, no one has the same presence Clarence brought to a scene.
Clarence was one of the few percussion-voiced Black actors in America who always stole scenes in the movies he starred in, despite the fact that he often was the co-star on film. His presence will be missed. His voice will be missed. I am deeply saddened to hear the news of his death.
I loved the roles to tend to select. My favorite Clarence Williams character was Bub Hewlett in the classic, Hoodlum (1997). His character was the counterpart to Laurence Fishburne’s Bumpy Johnson, and as I said before, he stole the show each time he was on screen. The chemistry between him and Laurence Fishburne was dynamic. I watch this movie frequently just for the interactions between the two. He would later play Bumpy Johnson himself in American Gangster (2007).
Other movies were Deep Cover (1992), I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), and The Butler (2013). He was in Sugar Hill (1993). He even has credit in the horror HBO TV series from the 90s, Tales from the Crypt in 1992.
Perhaps it was his experience on Tales from the Crypt which lead him to his most famous role — the narrating mortician in Tales from the Hood (1995). I’ll have to assess that this might the role he is mostly known for. Tales from the Hood was a Black hood-horror movie, long before Jordan Peele wrote Get Out. The movie itself might not seem like much now, but at its time it was a phenomenal movie, because Black horror (in hip-hop was call this “horrorcore”) movies were tried and simply didn’t land. This movie, with its multi-story presentation, did. Sure, we had Candy Man with an amazing Tony Todd at the helm, but that was a solid movie with one story. Candy Man wasn’t an episodic film telling multiple horror stories. Clarence Williams was front and center of this one.
This was Clarence Williams at his most craziest, deranged character type. He owned this movie, hard. Upon viewing this movie, you would think that he would have been selected for more horror roles, or a goth-inspired Tim Burton movie. I really love seeing him steal scenes that were plainly given to him.
Clarence Williams III, we will miss you.