June 28, 1999 12:00 PM

>Clarence Williams III

He may not have remained in the spotlight since ending his five-year run on The Mod Squad in 1973, but Clarence Williams III hasn’t been a missing Line either. This month the actor, who has appeared in some 20 films in the past two decades, co-stars as stoic Col. George Fowler opposite John Travolta in the thriller The General’s Daughter. The role is far removed from his Afro-wearing, oh-so-cool Mod role, but Williams says he was never typecast as Line. The trick: “I cut my hair.”

Though he calls Travolta “fun to be around,” Williams, 59, didn’t have too much fun himself on the Savannah set. “I don’t hang out,” he says. “I just go and do my job. It’s not a social set for me.” The divorced actor, who spent his Mod years in L.A. but returned to his native New York City soon after, does not hang out much in his day-to-day life either. Though he keeps apartments in Manhattan and L.A., he says he prefers “living on the road and in hotels. I try to soak up information so when I’m called upon to perform I have something to contribute.” For Williams, it’s the only way to go. “I figure you’re going to go around this thing one time,” he says, “and it’s not a rehearsal. It’s opening night every day.”

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