The son of a musician, African American actor Clarence Williams III was raised by his grandmother. While attending his local YMCA branch as a teenager, Williams became interested in dramatics. After a two-year hitch with the Air Force, he began his acting career, making his New York debut in 1960's The Long Dream. Williams amassed an impressive list of Broadway credits, and in 1966 was artist in residence at Brandeis University. Still, he remained an unknown commodity in Hollywood until 1968, when he was cast as "hip" undercover cop Linc Hayes on the popular TV weekly The Mod Squad. After the series' cancellation in 1973, Williams divided his time between stage and film work, occasionally functioning as a director. Among his better-known assignments of recent years was the role of Prince's father in Purple Rain (1984) and the recurring part of Roger Hardy in the cult TV series Twin Peaks (1990). Clarence Williams III is married to actress Gloria Foster.