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Clarence Williams III has died from colon cancer at the age of 81.

The actor, most famous for his role on The Mod Squad passed away in Los Angeles on Friday, his management told The Hollywood Reporter.

Williams played undercover cop Lincoln Hayes on the ABC drama between 1968 and 1973.

He was also well known for his roles on Purple Rain, Half Baked and Tales from the Hood.

His career spanned back to the '60s when he got his start in theatre. He made his breakthrough on Broadway when he won a Tony award for his work on Slow Dance on the Killing Ground before he moved into TV and movie acting.

Michael Cole as Pete Cochran and Clarence Williams III as Linc Hayes in the opening credits to The Mod Squad
(Image: CBS via Getty Images)

His long-running career saw him feature on productions including The Cosby Show, The Littlest Hobo, Miami Vice, Twin Peaks, Tales from the Crypt, Star Trek and Walker, Texas Ranger.

From 2003-07, the actor portrayed father figure Philby Cross opposite Kellie Martin in 10 Mystery Woman telefilms that aired on Hallmark Channel.

He was born on August 21, 1939 to professional musician Clay Williams before being raised by his grandparents who were famous musicians.

Stars and fans alike took to social media to pay their respects to the actor following the news.

Living Colour's Vernon Reid tweeted: "Mod Squad broke new ground. Clarence Williams III broke new ground. You can draw a direct line from Clarence Williams III to both Denzel & Idris.

Clarence Williams III, who played Linc Hayes in The Mod Squad has died aged 81
(Image: CBS via Getty Images)

"It’s his MF moody blood running through The Kid in Purple Rain that’s the furnace of his pain & genius. Rest In Power, Linc."

Another fan of the actor commented: "My heart is hurting right now at the passing of another bona fide legend. Clarence Williams III was an actor u can depend on to bring the heat in any film or show he was on.

"Ain't gonna be another like him. Rest in Power, King. Ur legacy is beyond secured."

Williams was married to actress Gloria Foster from 1967-84.

He is survived by his sister Sondra Pugh and daughter Jamey Phillips.

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