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Paul Winfield

Paul Winfield

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Also Known As: Paul Edward Winfield Died: March 7, 2004
Born: May 22, 1941 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: Cast ... actor voice actor
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BIOGRAPHY

A powerhouse black supporting player and occasional lead, Paul Winfield gained international recognition and a Best Actor Oscar nomination opposite Cicely Tyson in Martin Ritt's "Sounder" (1972).

Winfield has worked consistently in theater, film and TV, offering one of his finest performances in the latter: as Martin Luther King Jr. in the NBC miniseries "King" (1978) He also scored on the big screen as Gabriel Grimes, the semi-autobiographical hero in the adaptation of James Baldwin's novel "Go Tell It On the Mountain" (1984) and as the college chancellor willing to sing Negro spirituals to gain donations to his school in "Roots: The Next Generation" (ABC, 1979).

Raised in the Watts section of Los Angeles during the period when it was changing from a white neighborhood into a primarily African American neighborhood, Winfield began his career acting onstage as an artist in residence at Stanford and the University of Hawaii. He made his feature debut in "The Lost Man" (1969), but it took his turn as a loving father and husband willing to do anything to provide for his family in "Sounder" to move him into the spotlight. But, typical of a black actor in the 1970s and 80s, even an Academy Award nomination did not guarantee acting offers. Winfield was relegated to supporting roles, as in "Conrack" and the remake of "Huckleberry Finn" (both 1974), in which he was cast as Jim. He reteamed with Cicely Tyson as another father figure in the superb "A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich" (1977), but it was four years before Winfield had another feature role, the decidedly supporting one as George Segal's attorney in "Carbon Copy" (1981). He went on to portray an animal trainer with the daunting task of re-training a dog which attacks blacks in Sam Fuller's controversial "White Dog" and was the doomed captain of a spaceship who incurs the attention of Ricardo Montelban in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (both 1982). He marked time during the 80s in such features as "The Terminator" (1984) and "The Serpent and the Rainbow" before emerging in authoritarian roles in the 90s. Winfield was the judge with a secret of his own in "Presumed Innocent" (1990), the police chief in "Dennis the Menace" (1993) and a bellowing general fighting aliens in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" (1996). He also played Rev. Dorsey in "Original Gangstas" (1996), a send-up of blaxploitation films that reunited such stalwarts as Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Ron O'Neal and Richard Roundtree.

The small screen has often provided more substantive roles for the actor. After making guest appearances in such top-rated 60s series as "Perry Mason" and "Daktari", he landed the regular role as neighbor and love interest to Diahann Carroll's "Julia" (NBC, 1968-70). Winfield appeared in a number of TV-movies, notably portraying baseball great Roy Campanella in "It's Good to Be Alive" (CBS, 1974) before another screen pairing with Cicely Tyson in "King". Other notable performances have included Oprah Winfrey's father in the first installment of the miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place" (ABC, 1989), Cap'n Jack in the CBS miniseries "Queen" (1993), and the slave Big Sam in the "Gone With the Wind" sequel, "Scarlett" (CBS, 1994). More recently, Winfield essayed fight promoter Don King in the biopic "Tyson" (HBO, 1995).

Winfield has not had much success as a series regular. He was cast as the sassy talking mirror in "The Charmings" (ABC, 1987-88), a forgettable sitcom in which the fairy tale characters are living in modern day. Winfield appeared in the final season of "227" (NBC, 1989-90), as the cranky owner of Marla Gibbs' apartment building. In a memorably cycle of CBS' "Wiseguy" (1989), he was a down-on-his-luck record company owner on the verge of making deals with the devil to get back on top. The actor won an Emmy in 1995 for his guest appearance as a federal judge whose rulings on busing inner-city children are challenged by one of the town's leading citizens in "Picket Fences" (CBS). In a memorable "Family Matters" (ABC, 1991), Winfield was Harriette's long-lost father, and in a 1996 episode of ABC's "Second Noah", he was a homeless man who brings meaning into the family's life. He attempted a return to series TV signing on as the patriarch of a family in business together in the NBC sitcom "Built to Last" (1997).

Winfield has also leant his distinctive vocal talents to several projects, ranging from Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" (PBS, 1994) to the PBS children's series "The Magic School Bus" (1994-98) and the ABC animated program "Gargoyles".

Contributions

SandraJune ( 2006-12-14 )

Source: The show is still coming on "Court TV" on the Comcast channel (58).

Paul Winfield was also the first voice-narrator for the crimes series "City Confidental".

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