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Paul Winfield, a Black actor, was born on this date in 1941.
Born in Los Angeles, CA, Paul Edward Winfield was raised by a single mother, Lois Edwards, who was a union organizer. He attended Manual Arts High School in LA. In high school, he was named best actor for three years in a row in an annual Southern California high school drama competition. He studied drama at four colleges before leaving UCLA six credits short of a degree. Winfield became a contract player at Columbia Pictures, impressing Burgess Meredith, who cast him in two Amiri Baraka stage plays. That got the attention of Sidney Poitier, who hired him for "The Lost Man," his first movie role.
Before this, Winfield played the boyfriend of Diahann Carroll in her situation comedy, "Julia." In 1972, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role of the father in Martin Ritt's "Sounder." His title role in the miniseries "King" in 1978 won an Emmy nomination for best actor. His character of a college chancellor willing to sing Negro spirituals to get donations for his school in "Roots: The Next Generation" in 1979 received an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor. His many television roles included "The Charmings" in 1987. He also won an Emmy in 1995 for his guest appearance in "Picket Fences."
As he advanced in his career, Winfield played more and more authority figures, such as his sarcastic but sagacious judge in the 1990 feature film "Presumed Innocent." He also played in the 1982 film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," and later on a 1991 episode of TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He appeared in the Broadway play "Checkmates" with Denzel Washington and as Don King in a 1995 HBO movie. In 1999, he was in the feature film, "Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.” Winfield was also a voice on "The Simpsons" in 1998 and played Thurgood Marshall in Strange Justice in 1999 for TV. In 2000, he was in “Knockout,” and a year later, he was in “Vegas, City of Dreams,” playing Detective Grady in “Second to Die.”
Winfield also performed in more than 20 stage plays at Los Angeles's Mark Taper Forum, including “The Latent Heterosexual,” starring Zero Mostel and directed by Burgess Meredith. Winfield also appeared in Richard III at New York's Lincoln Center Theatre and was Artist in Residence at the University of Hawaii and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Winfield was honored by C.O.R.E., the Black Publishers of America, the National Association of Media Women, the California Federation of Black Leadership, and the Black Child Development Institution of Washington, D.C. He received the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor and was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
In 2000, Winfield appeared with John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra at Tanglewood on Parade, as narrator of “The Unfinished Journey.” As a Gay man, his partner of 30 years, set designer and architect Charles Gillan, Jr., died of a rare bone disease in 2002. Paul Winfield was an actor known for his versatility and power in stage, film, and television. He died of a heart attack on March 7, 2004 in Los Angeles. Winfield is survived by his sister, Patricia Wilson, of Las Vegas.
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