Paul Winfield


Actor

About

Also Known As
Paul Edward Winfield
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
May 22, 1939
Died
March 07, 2004
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

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 th...

Notes

Winfield was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

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."

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Sounder (2003)
Teacher
Vegas City of Dreams (2002)
Second to Die (2002)
Knockout (2000)
Strange Justice (1999)
Catfish in Black Bean Sauce (1999)
Harold Williams
Deadly Measures (1998)
Relax...It's Just Sex (1998)
Auntie Miriam
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Original Gangstas (1996)
Irresistible Force (1995)
Commander Tooley
Tyson (1995)
White Dwarf (1995)
In the Kingdom of the Blind (1994)
The Legend of Gator Face (1994)
Breathing Lessons (1994)
Trapped (1994)
Cliffhanger (1993)
Dennis The Menace (1993)
Mastergate (1992)
Presumed Innocent (1990)
83 Hours 'Til Dawn (1990)
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
Big Shots (1987)
Johnnie Red
Guilty of Innocence: The Lenell Geter Story (1987)
George Hairston
Death Before Dishonor (1987)
Blue City (1986)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (1984)
Gabriel Grimes
Mike's Murder (1984)
The Terminator (1984)
For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story (1983)
Dreams Don't Die (1982)
Charlie Banks
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
On The Run (1982)
Harry
Sister, Sister (1982)
White Dog (1982)
Carbon Copy (1981)
Bob Garvey
Angel City (1980)
The Greatest (1977)
Green Eyes (1977)
Lloyd Dubeck
Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)
Damnation Alley (1977)
Keegan
A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich (1977)
Butler
High Velocity (1977)
Watson
Hustle (1975)
Conrack (1974)
It's Good to Be Alive (1974)
Roy Campanella
Huckleberry Finn (1974)
The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973)
Gordon's War (1973)
Trouble Man (1972)
Chalky [Price]
Sounder (1972)
Nathan Lee [Morgan]
Brother John (1971)
Henry Birkardt
R. P. M. (1970)
Dempsey
The Lost Man (1969)
Orville

Cast (Special)

Mahalia Jackson: The Power and the Glory (2000)
Narration
The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special (1996)
47th Annual Emmy Awards (1995)
Presenter
At the River I Stand (1993)
Narration
The Movie Awards (1991)
Presenter
The Streets (1991)
Host
James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (1989)
Drug Free Kids: A Parent's Guide (1988)
Mighty Pawns (1987)
Katherine Anne Porter: The Eye of Memory (1986)
The War Between the Classes (1985)
Mr Bateman
Key Tortuga (1981)
Cyclone Williams; His Friend
With All Deliberate Speed (1976)

Misc. Crew (Special)

An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence Benefiting The United Negro College Fund (1999)
Other
An African American Salute to the Academy Awards (1998)
Interviewee
An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence Benefiting The United Negro College Fund (1998)
Other

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Assignment Berlin (1999)
Al Spector
Stolen Memories: Secrets From the Rose Garden (1996)
The Assassination File (1996)
Jirimpimbira: An African Folk Tale (1995)
Voice Of The Old Man
Scarlett (1994)
Queen (1993)
The Wish That Changed Christmas (1991)
Voice
Back to Hannibal: The Return of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (1990)
The Women of Brewster Place (1989)
The Blue and the Gray (1982)
The Sophisticated Gents (1981)
Richard Bubbles Wiggins
Roots: The Next Generations (1979)
Backstairs at the White House (1979)
King (1978)

Life Events

1965

Worked as artist in residence at University of Hawaii

1965

Made TV debut in episode of "Perry Mason" (CBS)

1969

Film acting debut in "The Lost Man"

1972

Breakthrough feature role, "Sounder"; earned Best Actor Oscar nomination

1973

Made TV-movie debut in "Horror at 37,000 Feet" (CBS)

1978

Played title role in the NBC miniseries "King"; won first Emmy nomination

1979

Had supporting role in "Roots: The Next Generation" (ABC), won second Emmy nomination

1989

Appeared as a record executive in a story arc of the CBS crime drama "Wiseguy"

1990

Had pivotal role in the feature "Presumed Innocent"

1995

Portrayed boxing promoter Don King in the HBO biopic "Tyson"

1997

Returned to series TV as regular on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Built to Last"

1999

Played the adoptive father of two Vietnamese children in "Catfish and Black Bean Sauce"

Videos

Movie Clip

Sounder (1972) - In These Hard Times Sharecropper Nathan (Paul Winfield) and wife Rebecca (Cicely Tyson) leading the family home, finding Sheriff Young (James Best) waiting to make a bogus arrest, in Martin Ritt's Sounder, 1972.
Sounder (1972) - Open, Needed Time Opening with the original Lightnin’ Hopkins recording of the song on which Taj Mahal based his score, leading to his first original song, with Paul Winfield as Nathan and Kevin Hooks as David Lee, hunting a raccoon in the dark, on location in Louisiana, opening Martin Ritt's Sounder, 1972.
Sounder (1972) - Baseball Is Your Game Soundtrack composer and performer Taj Mahal (as Ike) lays a decent tag on a base-runner from a pick-off throw by Paul Winfield (as Nathan Lee), Cicely Tyson (as Rebecca) and kids (Kevin Hooks, Eric Hooks) cheering the sharecroppers' team, in Depression-era Louisiana, early in Sounder, 1972.
Sounder (1972) - It's Nathan! Famous scene, David Lee (Kevin Hooks) and Rebecca (Cicely Tyson) shocked to see Nathan (Paul Winfield) returning from jail, John G. Alonzo's photography, in Martin Ritt's Sounder, 1972.
Conrack (1974) - We're Mostly Black Taking his class afield in coastal South Carolina, 1969, Jon Voight as the author Pat Conroy in the film based on his memoir, mixing English poets and botany, surprised to meet Paul Winfield, as moonshiner Mad Billy, in director Martin Ritt’s Conrack, 1974.
R.P.M. (1970) - Somewhat Groin-Oriented Student radicals occupying their university admin offices, Rossiter (Gary Lockwood), and Dempsey (Paul Winfield) await the report of "Paco" Perez (Anthony Quinn), their chosen interim president, on how their demands went over with the board, in Stanley Kramer's R.P.M., 1970.

Trailer

Family

Clarence Winfield
Father
Lois Beatrice Winfield
Mother

Bibliography

Notes

Winfield was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.